Former Skyline Healthcare owner Joseph Schwartz on Monday was charged with Medicaid and tax fraud – more than three years after the nursing home chain collapsed.
The Arkansas Attorney General’s office charged Schwartz, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with eight counts of Medicaid fraud and two counts of tax fraud – all felonies – according to a report from NBC News. He is expected to turn himself in to Arkansas authorities by early January.
Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge alleges Schwartz made false statements in monthly Medicaid cost reports – Arkansas overpaid Schwartz by more than $3 million based on the statements, the NBC report said.
The former Skyline owner also allegedly failed to pay state funds withheld from employee paychecks, along with failure to pay state income taxes.
“The fact that this individual and his family members still have an investment stake in nursing homes suggests just how little accountability and oversight exists,” David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, said in a Twitter post.
Rutledge’s office may be working with other state attorneys general to bring possible civil action against Schwartz, the report said.
Wood Ridge, N.J.-based Skyline at its height owned or operated more than 100 skilled nursing facilities in 11 states, overseeing more than 7,000 seniors. Starting in the spring of 2018, various states were forced to appoint third-party receiverships for Skyline properties, starting with Nebraska, then Kansas, South Dakota and Pennsylvania by July 2019.
Some facilities formally transitioned from state receivership to operators like Tampa, Fla.-based Mission Health Communities, after lengthy receivership processes.
Schwartz managed the properties from a tiny office over a New Jersey pizzeria, the NBC report said, and co-owned most of the properties in Skyline with his wife Rosie; his sons Michael and Louis served as vice presidents. He entered the nursing home industry more than a decade ago after selling a Florida-based insurance company, according to a sworn deposition of Schwartz from Sept. 2021 obtained by NBC. Schwartz didn’t have any industry experience prior to ownership, other than selling facilities liability insurance.
The AG’s office in Arkansas has been investigating reports of neglect at Skyline properties since the company entered the state in 2015, a previous NBC investigative report found.
Financial mismanagement and neglect allegations follow Schwartz across state lines, NBC News said, including wrongful death claims in Arkansas and Tennessee facilities. Bounced paychecks of Skyline staff in Massachusetts ended in almost $85,000 in penalties for unpaid wages and missing payroll documentation, issued by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey.