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Hospice owner faces federal fraud charges

BLOOMINGTON -- Patients are left with no care after the owner of Passages Hospice is arrested.
BLOOMINGTON -- Patients are left with no care after the owner of Passages Hospice is arrested. Seth Gillman is accused of stealing millions. Passages Hospice employs hundreds all over Central Illinois. WCIA-3's Megan Brilley finds out what happens next.

Employees were sent home last week without notice, a check or an idea of where their jobs stand.

"I don't know how many times I've had to pinch myself, thinking that this isn't true."

Jackie Jones has been in denial for the past week, ever since she got the call. Her coworker phoned to say Passages Hospice was closing and their jobs were in danger.

"I said, 'What!?'"

Jones has been a CNA at Passages Hospice in Danville for the past four years. Thursday, she and hundreds of her coworkers were told their patients would be transferred to other facilities and they shouldn't report to work.

"What do you say? What do you say to a patient that's laying there and saying, 'Where have you been?' I haven't been there for three or four days."

Jones didn't understand, but there's one part of the story she wasn't told. Investigators say her boss, Seth Gillman, forced nurses to lie about the state of patients and say they were terminally ill.

Police records show, if they refused, Gillman would threaten to fire them. The FBI believes that's how he stole $125 million from Medicare and Medicaid. He was arrested last month.

"We didn't know anything about this. We were the last to find out."

But, she says now, it's all stating to make sense. Jones says she and her coworkers haven't had insurance since October and their flex-pay accounts have been drained.

"What's your biggest fear?"

"What's going to happen to the patients?"

"We try to treat our patients with the utmost respect."

"They supposedly cared about their employees. You know, 'Oh, we're here for you.' All lies. All total lies. Every dirty dog has their day. He'll have his day."

Jones says the company owes her two-and-a-half weeks of pay and 70 hours vacation time. If Jones doesn't get paid Friday, she and her coworkers plan to hire an attorney.

Passages Hospice did not return our calls. Gillman is awaiting his day in court. If convicted, he could face 15 years in prison.

The Department of Justice put an emphasis on tracking down Medicare scammers. In 2012, it launched more than 1,300 healthcare fraud investigations. Those efforts helped recover $4 billion in fraudulent payments. As part of the Affordable Care Act, those caught scamming the system now receive longer sentences.
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