Former exec of Wichita home health care business sentenced for filing false tax returns

The former owner of a Wichita home health care company who pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns was sentenced Thursday to community confinement and banned from doing business with Medicare.

Gerard Lessard, 68, was sentenced to six months community confinement followed by six months in-home detention with electronic monitoring, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said. After his confinement is complete, he will serve a year on supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $692,415 in restitution.

In addition, Lessard also entered into an agreement requiring him to pay more than $596,509 to the federal government and the state of Kansas to settle a claim under the federal False Claims Act. As part of the agreement, Lessard agreed to be permanently excluded from doing business with Medicare, Medicaid and all other federal health care programs.

Lessard and his wife, Betty Lessard, are the former owners of ProActive Health Care in Wichita. They each pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return. In their pleas, they admitted that in October 2005 they filed a joint federal tax return for the year 2004 in which they failed to report additional income totaling $858,789.

Betty Lessard is set for sentencing Dec. 3. The couple pleaded guilty to the charges in June.

According to court documents, Proactive was one of the largest home health agencies in Kansas and received more money from Kansas Medicaid in 2004, 2005 and 2006 than any of its competitors. Lessard’s agreement under the False Claims Act settles a civil action that began in 2011 when a federal agent filed an affidavit alleging Proactive submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid totaling more than $38 million.

The couple originally faced additional charges of filing false federal tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2005, which underreported an additional $2.63 million. But those charges were dismissed.