A model and body-builder who worked as a salesman for a Boca Raton medical laboratory pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit health-care fraud in connection with what federal prosecutors claim was a far-reaching scheme to use people in recovery to bilk insurance companies out of millions.
On Tuesday, an employee of Chatman’s sober houses and treatment centers, Michael Bonds, also is scheduled to take a plea deal, according to court documents. In addition to conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, Bonds is charged with two counts of money-laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money-laundering, charges that each carry a possible 20-year prison term.
Gatt, 27, who lives in Broward County, faces a maximum six-year prison sentence when he appears back in court on April 24. While the charge carries a possible 10-year term, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie Villafana told U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks that prosecutors agreed Gatt should face a less severe punishment for cooperating with authorities. Edward Salantrie, who represents Gatt, said he would ask that his client receive less than six years for his role in the $3.8 million scam.
Gatt, wearing a business suit and glasses, told Middlebrooks he attended college for two years and occasionally takes Adderall, an amphetamine often used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Released shortly after his arrest in January on a $100,000 bond, he answered the judge’s questions with a simple, “Yes, sir” or “No, sir.”
Gatt met Chatman while working for American Clinical Solutions, a lab based near Tampa that has offices throughout the state, Villafana said. Egged on by Chatman, Gatt agreed to pay kickbacks so the laboratory would be allowed to test hundreds of phony saliva samples that insurers were told were from patients at two treatment centers Chatman owned, she said. Gatt admitted he knew that the samples were bogus.
Some came from employees of Reflections Treatment Center in Margate and Journey to Recovery in Lake Worth, she said. Gatt himself submitted his own saliva for testing, she said. As a convicted felon, Chatman, 45, of suburban Boynton Beach, was barred from owning treatment centers, so put them in his wife’s name, Villafana said.
Gatt also knew that other labs, who also agreed to pay Chatman kickbacks, were already testing urine samples from the same people. By billing insurance companies to also test their saliva, he knew he was asking them to pay for duplicative tests. He also sent insurers bills for unnecessary allergy and DNA tests, Villafana said.
Insurers were billed roughly $14 million and paid America Clinical Solutions $3.8 million to test the bogus samples, she said. Gatt, in turn, received salary increases and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bonuses, she said. Using the money he amassed from his illegal acts, he invested $50,000 in the treatment center in Lake Worth, Villafana said.
Salantrie said he wasn’t sure exactly how Chatman met Gatt, who moved from the lab’s main office near Tampa to one in Boca Raton. Working as a salesman, Gatt may have simply been making cold calls to his treatment centers, he said. But, Villafana said, Chatman made it clear that if Gatt didn’t pay kickbacks he would take his lucrative phony testing business elsewhere.