Former CEO of N.J. Mental Health Center Not Feeling Too Healthy After Fraud Conviction

November 1, 2004

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that the former owner and CEO of a defunct Camden mental health counseling center has been convicted of second degree Health Care Claims fraud following a five-week jury trial in Camden County Superior Court.

The Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor had charged the CEO, along with a corporate manager and six counselors employed at the health counseling facility, with submitting more that $50,000 in fraudulent bills to the Medicaid Program.

“This conviction represents a significant victory in our fight to dismantle insurance fraud in New Jersey. The fact that the jury convicted the CEO of a corporation of bilking much-needed dollars from the state and federal Medicaid program speaks to the strong case brought by the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor,” said Harvey. “Aside from stealing money from insurance companies, thereby contributing to higher insurance rates, this CEO violated the trust placed in him to provide counseling services by stealing from the very program that provides much-needed medical benefits to our poorest residents.”

According to Vaughn McKoy, director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Eliezer Martinez, 57, former owner and CEO of Hispanic Counseling Center and Family Services of New Jersey Inc. located in Camden, was convicted of Health Care Claims Fraud after a five-week jury trial before Camden County Superior Court Judge Thomas Brown, Jr. Martinez faces up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000 when sentenced on Dec. 10.

Gooden-Brown noted that Martinez was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment returned on May 31, 2002. The indictment charged Martinez with Health Care Claims Fraud and Medicaid Fraud. Also charged in the indictment were Olga Marquez, 56, of Camden, the Manager of Hispanic Counseling Center; Sandy Silva, 44, of Pennsauken; Olga Bonett, 35, of Pennsauken; Juanita Melendez, 63, of Camden; Jose Jiminez, 46, of San Sebestian, Puerto Rico; Bartolo Moreno, 42, of Pennsauken; and Luz Senquiz, 50, of Collingswood. Silva, Bonett, Melendez, Jiminez, Moreno and Senquiz were all counselors at Hispanic Counseling Center. Each was charged with Health Care Claims Fraud and Medicaid Fraud.

The indictment alleged that between May and December 1998, Martinez and the employees of the Hispanic Counseling Center billed the Medicaid Program more than $50,000 for counseling services that were never provided. Claims for payment were submitted to the Medicaid Program for hour-long counseling sessions that were actually shorter in duration; for more counseling sessions than were actually provided; and for individual therapy sessions for certain patients that actually received counseling in group therapy sessions.

Co-defendants Olga Marquez, Hispanic Counseling Center Manager, Olga Bonett (counselor), Juanita Melendez (counselor), Jose Jimenez (counselor) and Luz Senquiz (counselor) previously pleaded guilty to third degree Health Care Claims Fraud. Co-defendants Sandy Silva (counselor) and Bartolo Moreno (counselor) are pending trial in Camden County Superior Court.

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