Former western Pa. nursing home head gets 5 years for fraud

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Associated Press
PITTSBURGH – An administrator who ran a nursing home that doctored records to cover up inadequate care of Alzheimer’s patients was sentenced to five years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Martha Bell testified at her sentencing and called the case a “terrible nightmare,” but stopped short of apologizing for what happened at the Ronald Reagan Atrium I Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Robinson Township.

“I have never done anything, as my parents taught me, to hurt anyone. I certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone,” Bell aid.

Prosecutors said Bell and the home’s parent company, the Alzheimer’s Disease Alliance of Western Pennsylvania, bilked the government programs out of $8 million from 1999 to 2003. Bell and the home provided substandard care while she ran up $88,000 in charges on nursing home credit cards, including 1,400 meals at restaurants, prosecutors said.

A jury in August 2005 convicted Bell, 60, of West Mifflin, of fraud and other charges.

U.S. District Judge Terry McVerry said she showed no remorse for her crimes. He also fined her $50,000 and ordered her to spend three years on probation after she is released from federal prison.

Bell is awaiting trial in Allegheny County in the death of an 88-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who wandered outside in the cold in October 2001, and on charges that she stole $51,000 in payroll funds.

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