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Former Pennsylvania nursing home administrator charged with fraud over care hours

Prosecutors say nursing hours were inflated to make it appear the facility was meeting staffing requirements during the pandemic.

The former administrator of a Pennsylvania nursing home was indicted this week and accused of scheming to falsely inflate work records to meet staffing requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.

Susan Gilbert, 60, of Lawrence, was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, health care fraud and obstruction of a federal audit, said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

"These crimes put facility residents at risk by only providing a dangerously low amount of nursing staff just before COVID began to surge across the country," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement, referring to the pandemic that has now killed more than a half-million people in the U.S.

Gilbert allegedly committed the fraud from October 2018 to February 2020 at the Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, according to court documents.

Prosecutors claim that nursing hours were inflated and time sheets falsified, including having people clock in for shifts they did not work, to make it appear as though the facility was providing more in direct care of residents than it was.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Gilbert on Thursday night. A message left at a phone number that could be connected to her was not immediately returned. Arraignment is set for March, court records show. Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing.

In September, the Mount Lebanon facility and another owned by the same company, Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, were searched by federal and state authorities. Shapiro described Mount Lebanon as a sister nursing home to Brighton.

At the Brighton nursing home, hundreds of people were infected with Covid-19, and more than 70 people died, according to data from the state department of health.

A part owner of the company that operates Brighton wrote in an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week that the deaths there were a tragedy, but the federal government gave out harmful pandemic guidance, and that facilities were left to fend for themselves on testing.

"Now my employees, who shouldered these burdens without help or effective guidance from the federal government, are facing prosecution," wrote Mordy Lahasky, part owner of Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC.