Rockland man to serve four months for health care fraud

By Stephen Betts | Apr 16, 2019

Portland — A 42-year-old Rockland man will serve four months in federal prison for health care fraud.

Michael A. Morrison was sentenced Tuesday, April 16, in U.S. District Court in Portland to four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank. The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen, includes four months of home confinement during Morrison's supervised release.

Morrison was also ordered to pay $206,000 in restitution.

The Rockland man had pleaded guilty Dec. 11, 2018.

According to court documents, between 2005 and 2016, the defendant was the manager of the Trade Winds Health, Swim and Tan Club in Rockland, which also operated a physical therapy practice known as Coastal Physical Therapy.

From 2014 through 2016, Morrison billed about $175,000 in false claims for reimbursement to Medicare, MaineCare, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and a Veterans Administration health care program. Some claims were false because the defendant exaggerated the length of time therapists spent with patients. He also made claims for appointments that were cancelled, for services that he provided, even though he was not properly licensed, and using the names of therapists who were not working on the dates claimed.

Court documents also show that the defendant embezzled about $31,000 from the Health Club by using a Health Club credit card to pay for personal Amazon.com purchases and by stealing cash that he failed to deposit into the Health Club’s bank account.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Maine Attorney General’s Office, Healthcare Crimes Unit; the Department of  Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; and the Rockland Police Department.

Morrison could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was originally charged with theft in state court, but the District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges in May 2017 because the federal government had taken over the case.

An affidavit filed at that time by Rockland police in state court stated that when the Trade Winds management began its investigation, it researched newspaper archives and found that Morrison had been accused in 2003 of involvement in missing money from a bank where he worked at that time.

In 2003, Banknorth filed a lawsuit against Morrison, seeking reimbursement of $10,225. He countersued for defamation against the bank. That lawsuit was dismissed later that year. Details of any settlement were never released, according to records in Knox County Unified Court.

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