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Valley woman sentenced to 27 months in Medicaid fraud

YOUNGSTOWN — Jennifer M. Sheridan, the final defendant in the Braking Point Recovery Center Medicaid fraud case, got a 27-month prison sentence Tuesday for her role in the enterprise.

Sheridan was responsible for medical billings at Braking Point, which operated drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Austintown and Whitehall, Ohio, that provided detox, intensive outpatient treatment, day treatment and residential living rehabilitation.

Prosecutors said Braking Point submitted and was reimbursed for about $24.5 million in false claims from 2015 to 2017.

Sheridan jointly owes restitution of nearly $16 million with her ex-husband, Ryan Sheridan, who was sentenced in January to 7 1/2 years in prison for his role in the enterprise.

Jennifer Sheridan, 41, of Austintown, and her attorney, Paul Shipp of Cleveland, presented letters from friends and family members to the judge before Tuesday’s hearing.

The letters “help to describe the kind of person Ms. Sheridan has been her whole life — a devoted mother and dependable friend who has helped many people,” the memorandum states.

“She is a mother who has raised five children to be good students and citizens who are contributing members of society,” the memorandum states.

“She is still raising two minor children who will have to survive without their mother or father during Ms. Sheridan’s incarceration.”

Ryan Sheridan, 39, was owner of the company and the primary driver of the enterprise, which operated from January 2015 through Oct. 18, 2017, prosecutors said.

Braking Point committed a “massive health care fraud,” and Sheridan drove it, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bennett said during Ryan Sheridan’s sentencing hearing in January.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman said earlier that Ryan Sheridan, Jennifer Sheridan and others “stole tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers through fraudulent billing and other crimes. They used the drug epidemic plaguing Ohio as a way to line their pockets and profited off the suffering of others.”

But Jennifer Sheridan argued in her memorandum that her ex-husband put “tremendous pressure” on her to increase billings or he would “kick her out of the house she lived in, take away her car and take their children from her.”

Jennifer Sheridan and Ryan Sheridan were married in 2001 and had three children together before divorcing in 2015, about the time Ryan Sheridan started Braking Point.

Bennett indicated earlier that Ryan Sheridan drove his employees to increase billings so that revenues would rise. His employees were “trying to be compliant with the law and all Ryan Sheridan is doing is saying ‘Get up the billing,'” Bennett said.

Bennett also noted at Ryan Sheridan’s sentencing hearing that Ryan Sheridan would frequently tell Jennifer Sheridan he would kill himself if he didn’t get what he wanted. It was evidence of the way Sheridan manipulated people, Bennett said.

Kortney L. Gherardi, 30, of Girard, program director for Braking Point’s Austintown facility, was sentenced March 9 to 18 months in prison.

Two doctors and an employee in the Columbus office were sentenced to probation for their roles in the enterprise.

The sentencing was carried out by a Zoom meeting instead of being held in the courtroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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