Former American Senior Communities CEO sentenced in multi-million dollar kickback scheme

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The former CEO of American Senior Communities learned his sentence in a multi-million dollar kickback scheme.

A judge sentenced former CEO James Burkhart to 114 months, plus an additional 12 months. However, the sentences will be served concurrently, meaning Burkhart will serve 9.5 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler had recommended a 151-month sentence for Burkhart, which would have been equivalent to about 12 and a half years.

Burkhart was fired from his position in September 2015, several days after a large-scale FBI raid at a series of homes and corporate headquartersHe was charged about a year later in October 2016.

According to a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors say Burkhart and three other men personally pocketed nearly $19.4 million dollars in criminal proceeds through different schemes and kickback arrangements.

Burkhart agreed to plead guilty in December 2017 to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and health care fraud; conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute; and money laundering.

"Instead of taking care of those he was in charge to lead and taking care of our elderly, he climbed on their backs to line his pockets," said Greg Massa, assistant special agent in charge from the FBI.

In a statement released through his law firm, Burkhart confirmed he received “illegal payments from various suppliers of products and services to American Senior Communities.”

“I accept responsibility today for criminal actions I took while I served as CEO of American Senior Communities. I am deeply sorry for having taken advantage of my relationships and positions for the sake of personal financial gain.”

Minkler released the Government’s Sentencing Memorandum last Friday, recommending the 151-month sentence. Burkhart’s defense team wanted him to serve 48 months.

The three other men who were charged in this case are former COO Daniel Benson, former contractor Steven Ganote and the former CEO's brother Joshua Burkhart. Their sentencing hearings will happen in July.

The defendants will be required to pay more than $12 million in restitution. All the parties involved have 60 days to determine how much has already been paid and how much each individual will be required to contribute.

On Friday night, American Senior Communities released the following statement to us:

"American Senior Communities trusted Jim Burkhart and he betrayed that trust as he was removed from his position of CEO of American Senior Communities almost three ago in September 2015.. We are grateful to Josh Minkler, Nick Linder, Cindy Cho and the agents who uncovered his breathtaking web of frauds and brought him to justice. We are grateful to Judge Pratt who was fair and honorable in her sentencing. Mr. Burkhart's actions have not impacted the high standards of care to the residents who ASC has the privilege to serve.  We are pleased to move forward by continuing the tradition of quality care."

FOX 59 asked Minkler whether there will be any additional indictments in this case. He said he cannot comment further at this time.