Kathryn Abbate, 64, of Hollywood, Florida, pled guilty today to theft of money from programs receiving federal funds. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Abbate served as chief executive officer of the Miami Beach Community Health Center (MBCHC) from 2002 to mid-2012. During this time, MBCHC was a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provided medical care to persons regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. MBCHC received millions of dollars of federal funding each year from 2008 to 2012 through cash grants and Medicaid reimbursements.
Beginning around 2008 and continuing through around May 2012, Abbate embezzled money from MBCHC. First, Abbate caused MBCHC to pay her non-accrued vacation pay and other forms of compensation that totaled over $3 million from 2008 to 2012. Second, she embezzled money from MBCHC by causing non-payroll checks to be issued from MBCHC payable to her. Specifically, from 2007 to 2012, she received 837 checks made payable to her totaling $3 million (the Abbate Checks) for “community development.” No backup documentation (such as an invoice or receipt) was provided for any of these checks and money from these funds was misappropriated by Abbate, including for personal use.
In May 2012, auditors requested backup documentation for the Abbate checks disbursed by MBCHC in 2011, totaling approximately $1 million. In response, Abbate caused false backup documentation to be provided to the auditors, indicating that the $1 million had been paid to five doctors at a medical facility. The money had not been paid to these doctors but had been misappropriated by Abbate.