ATLANTA - Two metro area health executives are facing federal criminal charges for their alleged involvement in a scheme that involved recruiting pregnant illegal immigrant women to give birth at area hospitals.
Tracey Cota was the COO of Clinica de La Mamama, which provided primarily undocumented women prenatal care, who didn’t have health insurance. They had clinics all over the metro area. Cota is charged criminally with receiving kickbacks, in return for sending those patients, to several metro area hospitals. The hospitals would then be reimbursed with Medicaid dollars, to pay for the births.
Gary W. Lang, the former CEO of Walton Regional Medical Center, now known as Clearview Regional Medical Center, is also facing federal charges for his involvement in the potentially multimillion-dollar scheme.
“These hospital executives might be under pressure to do whatever it takes to get the revenue stream in the door,” said Bob Brennan, a former federal prosecutor, who specialized in health care fraud.
“I was just completely blown away, cause we opened in May of 1998 and never had any issues,” said Ed Cota, Tracey’s husband, when Channel 2 Action News asked him about the allegation in a federal lawsuit back in August.
Tracey Cota, reached by phone on Monday night, said she could not comment.
The whistleblower lawsuit, which started the parallel civil case, was originally filed by Bill Williams, the former CFO of Walton Regional Medical Center. The federal government intervened and is also going after two large hospital chains, Tenet and Monroe Health Management Associates in a parallel civil lawsuit.
“I said this is an illegal agreement, it is a kickback situation,” Williams told Channel 2’s Jodie Fleischer back in December.
“To cross the threshold of a Civil False Claims Act case into the world of criminal cases where someone's liberty could be lost, it is very serious,” Brennan said.
Tracey Cota and Gary Lang both waived their right to indictment.
“That suggests that they will quickly plead guilty to these charges and they will likely be a cooperating witness in the government’s ongoing investigation,” said Cota.
Lang hasn’t responded to emails, or calls, asking for comment.