St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Man pleads guilty in patient brokering

The ex-executive faces a possible 3-year prison term, a $100,000 fine and $400,000 in restitution.

By JEFF TESTERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 16, 2000


TAMPA -- An executive involved in illegally brokering patients into treatment centers in Largo and Tarpon Springs has pleaded guilty to making a kickback to a union official and agreed to pay $500,000 in restitution and fines.

Douglas A. Miller, who was associated with companies which brokered patients into treatment programs at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo and The Manors in Tarpon Springs, faces a possible 3-year prison term and a $100,000 fine and $400,000 in restitution to the U.S. government.

Miller and associate Barry J. Goldstein were initially indicted by a federal grand jury in June on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government by paying or taking kickbacks for the referral of Medicare patients. Also named in the June indictments were Anclote Psychiatric Hospital, a 130-bed facility renamed The Manors before going out of business several years ago, and Goldsel, Anclote Inc., the general partner of Anclote Psychiatric Hospital.

The grand jury accused Miller and Goldstein of making illegal payments to broker Amtrak staffers, Northwest Airlines employees and others into treatment. In one case, Goldstein and Miller signed an agreement to supply patients to Anclote Psychiatric Hospital through a company called Care Options for $195,000 a month.

In November, federal prosecutors dismissed the conspiracy charges against Miller and Goldstein. This week, the government filed new charges against Miller for making an illegal payment to a union official who supplied patients from union rosters.

No new charges have been filed against Goldstein.

"Our client has cooperated with the investigation for the last three years," said Gary R. Trombley, a Tampa attorney representing Miller.

Trombley described Miller as being "closer to the bottom of the food chain" in a national network of patient brokers, and said his client now lives out of state and is no longer in the health care business.

Miller has pleaded guilty to making a $3,000 payment through a company called recovery Management III to Northwest Airlines Employee Lindsey Huddleston. Huddleston also was community services director for the Detroit Air Transport Workers Union Local 141, and responsible for intervening with union members suffering from addiction or psychiatric problems.

Huddleston originally was charged with bribery and racketeering, then pleaded guilty in January 1999 to reduced charges of taking an illegal kickback. He was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and restitution of $12,882.

Prosecutors say Huddleston also brokered a dozen patients into Colonial Hospital in Virginia in 1992 for $22,268.

The facility was found guilty of violating Medicare laws and was subsequently stripped of its certification and went into bankruptcy.

- Jeff Testerman can be reached at (813) 226-3422 or testerman@sptimes.com.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.