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The owner of Bergen Alliance Counseling Services in Paramus, New Jersey pleaded guilty to a run-of-the-mill healthcare fraud scheme in District Court in Newark on March 19. Maria Cosentino of Garfield, a licensed clinical social worker, admitted to billing private healthcare programs for counseling sessions that did not take place.

The practice provided counseling services and mental health treatment to children and adults. Cosentino confessed to submitting falsified insurance claims for patients who were out of the country on the date of service, had ceased their relationship with Bergen Alliance, or were never actually patients of the practice. In one example, she directed the backdating of nearly a year’s worth of claims for two patients’ weekly counseling sessions that never actually occurred. Cosentino’s fraudulent scheme generated $700,000 in illicit proceeds.

The charge of healthcare fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of either $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2024.

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