Georgia genetic testing laboratory accused of paying unlawful kickbacks to Aiken Counseling Group, LLC

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Sep. 16—Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced Thursday that his office has resolved claims that Alpha Genomix Laboratories Inc. paid unlawful kickbacks to Aiken Counseling Group LLC to induce genetic testing referrals, from April 2015 through December 2016.

"The United States alleges that during this time period, Alpha Genomix disguised its kickbacks by paying the salary of an individual who primarily worked for Aiken Counseling Group," according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The United States alleged most of the referrals were not legitimately ordered by a physician and were medically unnecessary.

"Medicare and South Carolina Medicaid paid for these fraudulent claims, which violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act," according to the release.

Alpha Genomix Laboratories Inc. will pay a $35,000 settlement upfront and a percentage of gross annual revenues up to a total of $200,000 to resolve the claims.

"The allegations settled arose from a lawsuit filed by a psychiatrist formerly employed by Aiken Counseling Group, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act," according to the release. "Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share between 15% and 30% of the recovery."

The owner of the Aiken Counseling Group, Lain Bradford, was sentenced in February 2020 to three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution, after pleading guilty to health care fraud and drug offenses in a related case.

Aiken Counseling Group filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in January 2018 and is no longer in business.

Since the allegations, Alpha Genomix Laboratories was sold to new ownership.

The Alpha Genomix Laboratories Inc. matter was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the South Carolina Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Assistant United States Attorney Beth Warren.

"Providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid are expected to uphold the integrity of the programs," said Derrick L. Jackson, special agent in charge with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). "Companies that seek unmerited payment for unnecessary and illegitimate services abuse the programs and divert funds meant to improve the health and prolong the lives of beneficiaries. HHS-OIG and our partners will actively pursue those who commit health care fraud."

"The litigation and settlement of this matter illustrates the government's emphasis on combating health care fraud," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act."

Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

"The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Alpha Genomix Laboratories Inc. does not admit wrongdoing or liability."

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