A Massachusetts man, already facing state charges for allegedly scamming people searching for substance abuse treatment, now faces federal charges for allegedly collecting $548,000 in kickbacks as a “body broker” who steered patients to a California clinic, according to court records.
Michael T. Hislop is scheduled to appear in US District Court in California on Jan. 10 for allegedly collecting kickbacks from the owners of the Crest Recovery treatment center in return for steering patients with insurance coverage to the for-profit operation for nearly two years, according to court records.
Hislop, 56, is currently free on a $25,000 unsecured bond following his arrest last week on the new federal charges. He is accused of conspiring with California men Nick Roshdieh, 51, of Aliso Viejo, and Vincent Bindi, 66, of Laguna Nigel, to pay and receive kickbacks, according to the US attorney’s office. A fourth man, Donald Vawter, 30, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was an employee now facing similar charges, according to court records.
“These corrupt individuals pay illegal kickbacks to obtain insured patients whose health plans pay generous benefits intended to cover legitimate treatments and tests,’' US Attorney for the Central District of California Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement. “Many recovery facilities offer much-needed services to addicts, those targeted in this sweep take advantage of our nation’s opioid crisis by fueling a patient-selling network more interested in generating profits than giving help to vulnerable people.”
The Boston Globe and STAT published a series in 2017 documenting a sprawling national network of insurance fraud in which drug users were recruited by “patient brokers” to go to treatment in other states to exploit their benefit payments.
Hislop was indicted on multiple charges of larceny over $250 and filing a false health care application or claim, and those cases are pending in Suffolk Superior Court where he has pleaded not guilty.
Daniel C. Reilly, who is representing Hislop on the state charges, wrote in an e-mail that “we are actively reviewing the materials provided by the Commonwealth and preparing what will be a vigorous defense.”
Reilly said Hislop is searching for an attorney to represent him in the California courthouse. “This said, with it being so early on in that case, and without access to discovery at this point, we would simply reiterate that he has entered a not guilty plea there, as well,’' he wrote. “We have no further comments at this time.”