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Health care clinic founder convicted of fraud

The founder of an area health care clinic is headed to prison for orchestrating a fraud that netted her more than $6 million over three years.

Sandra Haar, 59, of Merced, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neil to five years in prison and ordered to pay $6,107,846 in restitution for health care fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Haar was ordered to self-surrender on Jan. 15, 2020, to begin serving her sentence.

Haar was the founder and chief executive officer of Horisons Unlimited, a nonprofit public benefit corporation that provided health and dental services in Merced, Madera and Stanislaus counties.

According to court documents, between Jan. 1, 2014, and March 2017, Haar orchestrated a scheme to bill Medicare and Medi-Cal for services she knew were not reimbursable and she profited by over $3.7 million from her fraud. For example, Haar billed Medi‑Cal for health and dental services that were not rendered and for unnecessary health care services.

She also billed Medi-Cal for office visits with purportedly licensed doctors when the patients instead were dispensed Suboxone, an opioid medication, in the parking lots of McDonald’s and Rite Aid in baggies.

According to court documents, Haar also received thousands of dollars in kickbacks in cash from an account executive at a laboratory in exchange for using it for patients’ laboratory testing.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the California Department of Health Care Services, and the California Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley and Michael Tierney prosecuted the case.