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The former president and CEO of a Whittier medical clinic pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent billings to a Medi-Cal health care program that provides family planning services to low-income Californians without health insurance.

Vincenzo Rubino, 58, of Valencia, pleaded guilty to nine counts of health care fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in the middle of his federal criminal trial, in which the prosecution had nearly concluded its case.

According to evidence presented at trial, Rubino founded, owned and operated Santa Maria’s Children and Family Center, a Whittier-based medical clinic registered as a non-profit public benefit corporation and enrolled as a Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (Family PACT) provider run through Medi-Cal.

From November 2014 to August 2017, Santa Maria’s submitted fraudulent claims totaling nearly $5 million to the Family PACT program for family planning services that were never provided, often using the information of patients who were recruited at off-site locations with offers of free diabetes testing, but who in fact never received the examinations and other services.

To submit many of these claims, Rubino used the names of two medical providers whom the patients did not see and who did not even work for Santa Maria’s at the time — a physician’s assistant and an elderly doctor who was himself a patient in a skilled nursing facility during much of the scheme.

The Medi-Cal program paid more than $2.3 million dollars on the fraudulent claims, as well as an additional approximately $1.5 million to a pharmacy and laboratory stemming from referrals based on the same services that were never delivered.

United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II scheduled a sentencing hearing for January 22, 2024, at which time Rubino will face up to 10 years in federal prison for each health care fraud count, and a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison consecutive to the other sentences for each aggravated identity theft count.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the California Department of Justice investigated this matter.