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

Scene of raid on Sept. 15, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another former executive with American Senior Communities who pleaded guilty in a multi-million dollar kickback scheme learned his punishment.

Daniel Benson, 54, Fishers, was sentenced to 57 months (4.75 years) during a hearing in federal court Friday. Benson was the former chief operating officer for the company and played an “integral part” in a “sweeping conspiracy” to defraud the company and Hospital Corporation of Marion County.

Federal prosecutors painted former CEO Jim Burkhart as the “mastermind” of the scam but said Benson played an important role in the $19 million fraud case. The defendants set up shell companies to launder money and conceal their activities.

The federal probe uncovered a complex series of billings and agreements stretching back to early 2009 that involved inflated costs and invoices claiming markups typically as high as 40% and kickbacks that enriched conspirators. They funneled money through more than a dozen shell companies.

Benson lived the high life as a result. He had a large home in Fishers, a vacation home on Lake Michigan, an apartment in Manhattan and a $50,000 Rolex watch.

“The evidence indicates that Benson was fully aware he was making money illegally,” the sentencing memorandum said. “For example, he knew that personally accepting payments from vendors who did business with ASC was wrong.”

Benson also concealed his activities from his coworkers, who were stunned when the case came to light.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and health care fraud, conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute and money laundering in December 2017.

A judge sentenced James Burkhart last week to 9.5 years in prison. Two others who pleaded guilty in the scheme, Burkhart’s brother Josh Burkhart and Steven Ganote, still await sentencing.

American Senior Communities issued this statement:

“ASC is grateful for the justice that was served in the legal case against its former executives who were removed from their positions nearly three years ago. As reported before, their actions never impacted the quality of care of the residents we have the privilege to serve. ASC is proud of the nearly two decades we have served seniors and are pleased to move forward by continuing to honor our commitment to quality care.”