California addiction rehab CEO, indicted on federal conspiracy charges, dead at 51 – The Mercury News

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Simply days earlier than his loss of life, a federal choose accepted Tarek Greiss’s request to journey to Belize along with his girlfriend so they might have fun her grandfather’s 88th birthday within the fall.

Final 12 months, Greiss pleaded not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and paying for patients at two dependancy rehabs the place was chief govt, South Coast Counseling and Elite Care Recovery in Costa Mesa. In approving the journey request, the federal government agreed to quickly return his passport — a sign of official trust.

However Greiss gained’t make the journey. He died on Aug. 6 at age 51, stated Sgt. Todd Hylton of the Orange County Sheriff’s Division. The reason for loss of life is pending.

“Tarek Greiss devoted his coronary heart and soul to serving to others and he saved a whole bunch of lives by his love and management,” stated John L. Littrell, who served as his lawyer, by e-mail. “His legacy is not going to be tarnished by the federal government’s misguided prosecution of him. Tarek might be remembered as one of many good guys.”

Greiss had a bachelor’s diploma in economics from the College of Washington and an M.D. from George Washington College, in accordance with his biography. He was an anesthesiologist earlier than dependancy received him into bother in a number of states and value him his medical license.

He “entered the world of dependancy restoration by the entrance door, as a shopper,” his bio says. “He’s a recovered impaired skilled who navigated the very troublesome highway to sturdy restoration by an intense trial and error interval.” At Elite Care, he developed an “Impaired Professionals Program” to assist professionals fighting dependancy to maintain or regain their skilled stature, his bio says.

“I had the privilege of figuring out Tarek the final two years. I stumbled throughout a component time alternative at his firm and had no thought what lay forward,” wrote Celeste Martinez, one in all many who paid online tributes.

“His power, imaginative and prescient and dedication lead me to stop my full time job and dive in head first. My ardour for nursing was reignited and I’ve by no means seemed again. He was within the trenches. He would go well with up and present up in any respect hours. I’ll perpetually be in his debt for the chance and steering that he offered. My condolences and prayers to all that referred to as him household and a pal.”

Federal officers, nevertheless, noticed a unique image.

Indicted

Greiss was one in all 345 folks charged final 12 months in what the U.S. Division of Justice referred to as “a historic nationwide enforcement action” that ensnared greater than 100 docs, nurses and different licensed medical professionals on all kinds of well being care fraud expenses.

The feds have been listening when Greiss was on the cellphone along with his Tustin advertising agency, SeKe, again in 2019, in accordance with his indictment. A brand new federal regulation, the Eliminating Kickbacks in Restoration Act of 2018, makes giving or receiving cash in alternate for dependancy therapy referrals a federal crime.

Greiss stated he “was hungry for admissions” and low on detox-eligible sufferers — the individuals who deliver within the largest insurance coverage payouts, in accordance with the indictment filed underneath seal Sept. 16. He mentioned the financial worth of 19 folks — values primarily based on the insurance coverage reimbursements they might generate — and in contrast that to funds already made to SeKe underneath a advertising companies settlement that prosecutors termed a “sham.”

The federal government also seized $176,548 during a raid on Greiss’s Costa Mesa home on July 26, 2019. The cash was free and in envelopes, court docket paperwork say. “Individuals engaged in unlawful conduct usually preserve forex at their residences, with a view to conceal their criminality and the funds from regulation enforcement,” the submitting stated.

Greiss was paying kickbacks and bribes in alternate for the referral of sufferers to his services, and was additionally receiving kickbacks and bribes for referring sufferers to scientific laboratories that offered drug testing, the paperwork allege.

“(A) single affected person enrolled in a substance abuse therapy facility for opiate dependancy can lead to a substance abuse therapy facility receiving insurance coverage funds of greater than $3,000 per day and $90,000 in whole relying upon the size of the affected person’s keep,” the paperwork say. “Usually, sufferers should check constructive for drug use earlier than insurance coverage firms pays substance abuse therapy services for Detox therapy. In mild of this reality, affected person brokers will give potential patents medication with a view to make positive that the affected person assessments constructive for medication and thereby turns into eligible for Detox therapy.”

The paperwork describe a potential affected person in 2017 who was picked up at LAX and brought to a park in Santa Ana. The possible affected person was given Xanax, injected within the neck with methamphetamine and was in detox for seven days earlier than transferring to South Coast Counseling’s rehab heart, the submitting says.

In 2018, a regulation enforcement supply posed as a possible purchaser of Greiss’s rehab companies. In recorded conversations, Greiss defined how he paid brokers on a per-patient foundation, and saved observe of these funds on “a secret spreadsheet,” the paperwork allege. Greiss additionally spoke about getting kickbacks from labs that carry out drug assessments, starting from $35,000 to $50,000 a month, and concealing these funds by having them wired to a separate restricted legal responsibility firm.

Greiss pleaded not responsible to conspiracy and “unlawful remunerations for referrals to scientific therapy services” on Sept. 28 and was launched on a $10,000 bond. He needed to give up his passport and undergo drug testing. Trial was repeatedly postponed because of the pandemic, and was slated to start March 1.

Usually, when federal prosecutors get official affirmation of a defendant’s loss of life, they transfer to dismiss the case, stated Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the DOJ.

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