Money and Nursing Homes

Can You Make Money if You Don’t Pay Your Bills?

Yes, if you own a nursing home. After Deseret Health Group, LLC announced that it was closing its Rock Springs and Saratoga, Wyoming nursing homes last Friday, the State Department of Health expected the group to close them down in a more or less orderly fashion over 60 days, as federal law requires. The State may have misjudged Deseret’s feelings towards federal law, whose founder Jon Robertson is serving a federal prison sentence after his 2014 conviction on tax charges. In dramatic developments yesterday, Sysco, the sole food supplier to the Rock Springs nursing home, announced that it would no longer make food deliveries to the Deseret Care and Rehab Center because Deseret owes Sysco about $50,000 for past deliveries. The outpouring of grassroots support from the community has been inspiring, as regular people have donated milk, bread, fruits and vegetables to the nursing home.

Less inspiring is the conduct of Deseret, which is wholly owned by the morbidly named “DNR Two, LLC.” That entity, in turn, is controlled by Jon Robertson’s wife and children. Because of the months’ long lag time between the rendering of services and payment by the government, if nothing is done Deseret stands to collect approximately $200,000 per month from the federal government over the next six months, while its expenses drop to zero.

The Robertsons may believe they need the money. After all, Jon Robertson owes the IRS $150,000 in restitution. And then there are foreign trips pay for. According to court documents, while Mr. Robertson was under indictment for attempted tax evasion a federal judge approved his trip to Bolivia. Mr. Robertson complained in a court filing that a federal magistrate denied his later request to accompany his wife on a trip to Italy.

Deseret’s founder is no amateur at this. In 1997, several of Deseret’s founder’s nursing homes closed abruptly, with, according to a Los Angeles Times account, “the most dramatic shuttering taking place at the Reseda Care Center, where one 88-year-old Alzheimer’s patient shrieked as she was wheeled out at 2:30 a.m.”

With Mr. Robertson scheduled to be released from federal custody on June 15, 2015, one wonders where the family plans to travel next.

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