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Psychiatric Hospital CEO Sentenced for Fraud

Stethoscope and gavel against a white backdrop.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The former chief operating officer for the Hollywood Pavilion psychiatric hospital was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a $67 million health care fraud scheme, the South Florida Sun Sentinelreports.

Christopher Gabel pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and pay and receive health care kickbacks. According to the Sun Sentinel, Gabel has also been ordered to pay more than $39.3 million in restitution.

Meanwhile, a Tampa doctor who worked for a pain clinic in Lakeland accepted a plea deal after he was accused of helping others obtain controlled substances that weren’t medically necessary, the Ledger of Lakeland reports. Aaron B. Rusch was charged with two counts of prescription fraud by a health care practitioner and a sentencing hearing is going to be held March 5. According to the Ledger, Rusch faces five years of probation and will never be allowed to apply for a medical license again.

And in South Florida, a couple pleaded guilty to practicing health care without a license after one of their clients became permanently disfigured from illegal injections they administered to enhance her buttocks, the Miami Herald reports. Samela and Pedro Hernandez injected multiple victims with a silicon-based solution banned in the U.S even though neither is a licensed doctor, the Herald reports. The couple have been ordered to serve two years confined to their homes and must pay restitution to the victim, according to the Herald.


Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.