FBI agents raided two nursing homes in Pennsylvania on Thursday, including one facility that was already under investigation for criminal neglect after it suffered the worst coronavirus outbreak in the state.
The FBI executed search warrants this morning at Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County, as well as Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Allegheny County, the Justice Department confirmed.
U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said agents from the FBI, the office of inspector general for Health and Human Services, the IRS Criminal Investigation unit and the state attorney general’s office were on the scene.
In a news release on Thursday, Brady urged anyone with information on ‘suspected fraud’ or ‘abuse’ related to long-term care facilities and the pandemic to report it to the COVID-19 Fraud Task Force.
A federal agent was seen heading into Brighton rehab center, which had the worst coronavirus outbreak in the state. The facility was also already under investigation by state officials for criminal neglect
Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County was one of two nursing homes searched by the FBI on Thursday
Further information on the search was not released.
An FBI spokesperson confirmed to DailyMail.com that the bureau’s Pittsburgh unit was conducting law enforcement activity at the two locations but did not provide additional details on the operation.
The search comes weeks after state officials launched a criminal investigation into the for-profit Brighton Rehab center which had the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
More than 300 residents and staff members tested positive for the virus and 73 patients died since the end of March, according to WPXI.
Meanwhile, the Mount Lebanon site made headlines earlier this summer after it was accused of stealing coronavirus stimulus checks from its patients, KDKA reported.
One resident’s son told the news station the facility told him they had planned to use his father’s stimulus check to pay his balance and other expenses.
Agents were seen carrying out a search operation in Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center as well. The nursing home made headlines earlier this summer after it was accused of stealing residents’ stimulus checks
Brighton was also the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit filed in July by the family of Elizabeth Wiles, a housekeeping employee who was contracted to work at the home
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro last month also confirmed Brighton Rehab was one of a handful of age care facilities being investigated for criminal neglect related to their pandemic response.
Rep. Conor Lamb had also called for a probe after Brighton allegedly failed to use personal protective equipment and began treating patients with hydroxychloroquine without the approval of the health department, KDKA reported.
Hydroxychloroquine, which has long been used to treat malaria and some inflammatory conditions, has been at the center of contentious and highly politicized debates as a possible treatment for coronavirus.
In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after several studies cast doubt on its effectiveness.
Brighton was also the subject in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in July by the family of Elizabeth Wiles, a housekeeping employee who was contracted to work at the home.
Pictured: Mt Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Allegheny County. Authorities did not release further information on the nature of the search
Wiles died May 10, apparently from Covid-19. Her family alleges the virus ‘spread through the Brighton unchecked, infecting and killing numerous residents and workers at the facility, including plaintiff’s decedent Elizabeth Wiles.’
Officials were also due to conduct an audit at the facility earlier this year, but were unable to do after managers refused to cooperate, according to the news station.
In a statement released last month, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said their goal was to ensure Medicaid patients were receiving the services for which the state is billed by direct care providers.
‘I’d still like to audit Brighton and I’m very disappointed that they did not comply, but my audit team will not undertake this review while a state investigation is ongoing.’
In May, the situation at Brighton grew so dire that the National Guard was sent in to help assist in medical care and cleaning.