A Norcross drug treatment facility with ties to the Church of Scientology will avoid any potential criminal charges after surrendering its license to the state.
But the investigation into allegations of insurance fraud by those running the facility isn’t over, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said.
“Narconon as a corporate entity has been relieved of criminal liability but no individual is,” Porter said Wednesday. “Certainly we’ve discovered discrepancies between what was billed and what was provided. The key now is to identify those individuals who were submitting the claims.”
Narconon admits no liability and acknowledges no wrongdoing in a deal it reached with Porter.
The agreement follows a decade’s worth of state probes into complaints that the facility, licensed as an outpatient clinic, was illegally operating a residential unit. In December, the Department of Community Health informed Narconon that it was revoking its license after uncovering sworn statements from the facility’s executive director confirming that it was knowingly operating as a residential program.
Soon after, the state insurance commissioner and Porter launched an investigation into allegations by the mother of a former patient who said her insurer was billed $166,275 for doctor visits that never occurred and treatment that was never provided. State investigators said they had uncovered nearly $3 million in alleged insurance fraud by Narconon of Georgia.
Under the agreement, Narconon will drops its appeal of the DCH’s license revocation.
Narconon will be allowed to reapply for a license after one year. It also agreed to perform six months of community service in Fulton County “in the form of outreach and educational programs designed to prevent adults from abusing drugs and alcohol,” according to the agreement.
In a statement, Narconon of Georgia said Wednesday that the agreement notes that it “conducted a thorough internal investigation regarding alleged, inadvertent over-billing” and that it “promptly and thoroughly reported its findings to the state.”
Mary Morton, the mother who first alleged insurance fraud, said Narconon got off with a “slap on the wrist.”
“I think they should be prosecuted,” Morton said Wednesday. “They should be held liable for what they’re doing.”
But Porter said, “For those who say that they got off scot-free, that there’s been an escape from justice, that comment would be premature.”
Since October, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has investigated allegations that Narconon of Georgia was misleading clients about the services it provided. Testimony in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the parents of someone who died while a patient at Narconon accused the facility of duping out-of-state courts and parents into believing it provided the kind of supervision expected from residential drug treatment facilities. The AJC’s reporting led the Department of Community Health to revoke Narconon’s license and later prompted an investigation by the state insurance commissioner into allegations of fraud. Those two cases eventually would intersect, leading to the agreement detailed in today’s article.