Judge orders drug rehab co-conspirator to state corrections’ custody
News: 2018 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Kirsten Wallace, 47, of Los Angeles, was formally transferred from the custody of the Los Angeles County Jail to the State Department of Corrections to begin serving 11 years in state prison for her role in a multi-million dollar insurance fraud scam involving substance abuse treatment.
Originally arrested in November 2016 with her partner, Christopher Bathum, the CEO of Community Recovery of Los Angeles (CRLA), the California Department of Insurance investigation found Wallace was intimately involved in executing the complex fraud scheme, as the organization's CFO.
"Wallace and Bathum sold victims and their families promises of an addiction-free life, but the only people who benefited from those empty promises were Wallace and Bathum who scammed insurers for millions for substance abuse treatment never provided and left behind a trail of broken promises and broken lives," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Wallace pleaded guilty last month to 46 felony counts of insurance fraud, grand theft, identify theft and money laundering in a wide-reaching health insurance fraud case that victimized dozens of people who sought substance abuse treatment only to find their identities stolen and health insurance policies purchased without their knowledge. The policies were used to double bill and invoice for treatment and services that never occurred, which resulted in several insurers paying more than $44 million in fraudulent insurance claims before authorities shut down the illegal operation.
After receiving tips from multiple sources, including insurers, clients and former employees, the California Department of Insurance launched an investigation into CRLA's business practices in 2014. Evidence also revealed Bathum represented to clients and their families that CRLA was a fully licensed residential drug treatment facility, which it was not.
Clients were lured to CRLA through online ads, from the streets and even from out of state. As CFO, evidence revealed that Wallace was deeply involved in the scheme and control of client information, billing codes and billing charts provided to clinic staff, and cashing checks from insurers that were made payable to clients and putting the money directly into CRLA accounts.
"I congratulate District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her team and our Department of Insurance detectives on a job well done. Their hard work paid off today, as Wallace begins serving her sentence," Jones continued.
The Department of Insurance worked with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Wallace. Bathum's trial on dozens of similar counts of insurance fraud, identity theft, and money laundering is scheduled to start January 3, 2019. Bathum is also scheduled for sentencing on sexual assault convictions, related to the same case, on June 18, 2018.
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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $371 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.