(STL.News) – Anthony Vespa, 55, was sentenced yesterday to 36 months in prison after having pleaded guilty to charges of Wire Fraud in connection with his employment as CEO of Southeast Michigan Accountable Care (SEMAC) announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Steven D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit, Michigan office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The Honorable David M. Lawson sentenced Anthony Vespa to serve 36 months in federal prison following his conviction for Wire Fraud by stealing $3,445,545.44 of SEMAC’s money. Following his release from prison, Vespa will serve a two year term of supervised release and was also ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture in the amount of $3,445,545.44 for the money he stole from SEMAC.
During the scheme to defraud, Anthony Vespa was employed as the executive director of SEMAC. SEMAC was founded in 2010 as an Accountable Care Organization and was a physician led network of physicians who partnered with Medicare to provide and improve healthcare for patients.
Included in SEMAC’s contract with Medicare was an agreement that SEMAC physicians would participate in Medicare’s shared savings program. This program provided a yearly payment to SEMAC physicians representing a percentage of the total amount SEMAC saved Medicare that year. The payment from Medicare to SEMAC for the calendar year 2016 was $3,947,000 paid on October 23, 2017. The vast majority of the money illegally taken by Vespa came from this payment.
Anthony Vespa’s scheme to defraud was uncovered during the summer of 2017 when an audit of SEMAC’s checking account was conducted and misappropriated funds were discovered. Vespa was terminated in August 2017, but in September 2017, without SEMAC’s knowledge or authority, he opened a new account for SEMAC. The new account information was communicated to Medicare and used by Medicare to transfer the 2016 shared savings bonus to SEMAC. All of this took place without SEMAC’s approval or knowledge. As soon as the Medicare bonus was deposited into his account Vespa wrote checks, wire transferred money out of the account and used most of the funds for his own benefit.
United States Attorney Matthew Schneider commended the outstanding work of the FBI in conducting a comprehensive criminal investigation into this scheme to defraud.
“Medicare’s shared savings program is intended to promote the effective delivery of medical services by rewarding physicians who provide excellent patient care in the most efficient way possible. The public has a right to trust that the tax dollars they pay to support Medicare programs are used for their intended purpose. This prosecution serves as a warning that we will relentlessly pursue anyone who steals Medicare funds for their own personal use.”
“The defendant had a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the funds of the victims’ who trusted him to that task. Even after his scheme to defraud was uncovered, the defendant continued his deceitful scheme to defraud which makes it even more reprehensible,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge D’Antuono. “Today’s sentence should send a clear message that the FBI will vigorously pursue those who seek to lie, cheat, and steal from our hardworking citizens.”