On Monday, August 21, 2017, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Christopher P. Canova announced that a Gainesville doctor had been sentenced on 162 counts of health care fraud. 60-year-old Ona M. Colasante formerly practiced in Gainesville. Colasante has been sentenced to 12 months in prison. She has been ordered to pay a $1,134,000 fine and more than $1 million in restitution. The defendant was convicted on 162 counts of health care fraud on May 2, 2016.

After her prison sentence has been served, Colasante will be required to perform 1,200 hours of community service and serve 3 years of supervised released. Between 1998 and March of 2009, Colasante owned and operated Hawthorne Medical Center out of Hawthorne, Florida. Between January 2010 and January 2013, she owned and operated the Colasante Clinic in Gainesville.

Colasante was found guilty of using both businesses to defraud Medicaid, Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida through false billing schemes. During the five-week trial, the government presented evidence detailing the schemes, which were carried out by Colasante and employees acting at her direction. The defendant ordered drugs that had not been approved by the FDA. These drugs were available at a significantly lower price. They were administered to patients without them knowing about the true nature of the medications.

Then, the defendant fraudulently billed insurance companies for the cost of drugs that had been approved by the FDA. Evidence proved that the defendant had also billed insurance companies for tests that were unnecessary. She submitted false diagnosis codes in an attempt to legitimize her fraudulent claims. Furthermore, Colasante billed insurance companies for treatment, counseling and training that was never provided to patients. Colasante’s business often submitted billings for smoke-cessation treatment for patients who did not smoke.

Ona M. Colasante has been sentenced to 12 months in prison with 3 years of supervised release.

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