The former CEO of a company that operates dozens of Indiana nursing homes was sentenced Friday to nearly 10 years in prison for his role in kickback schemes involving nearly $20 million.
A federal judge ordered the prison term for James Burkhart, who pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy to commit fraud, violate health care anti-kickback laws and money laundering.
Burkhart, 53, was the CEO of Indianapolis-based American Senior Communities until he was fired soon after federal agents raided his Carmel home in 2015.
Prosecutors said Burkhart wasn’t satisfied with his $1.4 million annual salary and ran fraud and kickback schemes that enabled him to live a more lavish lifestyle.
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said Burkhart received $7 million in bonuses during the six years he led the fraud and owned two vacation homes.
“But that wasn’t enough. He wanted more. He wanted more money,” Minkler said. “He did what he thought he needed to do to feed that unbridled greed.”
Burkhart told the judge before his sentencing that he was sorry, and his voice broke as he asked for mercy.
“I stand before you a destroyed and broken man. Good people can do bad things and bad things can destroy the good they’ve done,” he said.
Burkhart was indicted in 2016, along with Daniel Benson, the company’s former chief operating officer; and associate Steven Ganote and Joshua Burkhart, who is James Burkhart’s brother.
ASC operates about 70 nursing homes around the state, according to federal officials. The charges against Burkhart included schemes having vendors inflate their bills to ACS and pay the excess to him and his co-defendants or submitting bills from shell companies he formed for fictitious services.
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said Burkhart’s crimes were not a onetime failure of judgment as they spanned six years and involved hundreds of transactions.
“He was the CEO of the company and the CEO of the fraud,” she said.
The others charged in the scheme have pleaded guilty and have sentencing hearings scheduled in early July.