5 people, 2 local nursing homes, including Brighton Rehab, indicted on health care fraud charges

PITTSBURGH — Selfies are one of Jodi Gill’s favorite ways to capture her time with her 84-year-old dad Glenn.

“If I was one of those family members who lost my family member. I would be kicking myself every day wondering should I have done more, could I have done more,” Gill said.

Glenn was one of hundreds of residents who lived through the COVID-19 pandemic at Brighton Rehab, a facility that lost more than 80 residents to the virus. Now years later, what family members always believed is coming out.

“Individuals at the highest level of these facilities conspired to falsify nursing hours to comply with the department of health and Medicaid Medicare staffing requirements,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

These five individuals who owned or worked as administrators at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center and Mt. Lebanon Rehab and Wellness Center are now named in a federal indictment:

  • Sam Halper, 39, CEO and part-owner of both facilities
  • Eva Hamilton, 35, former director of nursing
  • Susan Gilbert, 61, former administrator of Mt. Lebanon Rehab
  • Michelle Romeo, 46, and Johnna Haller, 41, co-defendants and regional-level employees

The charges are conspiracy to defraud the U.S. healthcare system by changing staffing records leading to poor care and adding ailments to patient files in order to get more government reimbursement.

“It would be hours I’d be looking for somebody. Like come on there’s a big puddle of urine in the room where everyone eats where are you?” Gill said.

But the dates in the indictment precede the pandemic, with the latest record of poor staffing being early 2020.

“It alleges many false statements but there is no mention of any deaths or connection to deaths in the indictment or allegations of such,” said Cindy Chung, U.S. Attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania.

While Jodi is happy with the indictments, she believes this only shows the facility wasn’t ready to take on the pandemic and did not have the proper staff to protect their loved ones. She’s hopeful more charges will be filed down the line.

“Looking back we can say if you didn’t have enough people you didn’t give them enough care and we know that. I’m so lucky that my dad is alive,” Gill said.

Halper had his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon and was released on bond. Gilbert was recently indicted and the other three are expected to go before a judge on Wednesday.

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