The owner of a drug and alcohol rehab center in Murrieta accused of filing fraudulent medical insurance claims that netted her more than $200,000 in ill-gotten gains made her initial court appearance Friday at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Brooke Elizabeth Best-Freeman, 34, surrendered Thursday at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in downtown Riverside and was booked into the Robert Presley Jail across the street a short time later.
Best-Freeman is charged with four counts of insurance fraud and one count of solicitation of a client with the intent to violate the California Insurance Code, with a sentence-enhancing white collar crime allegation.
She appeared with her attorney before Superior Court Samuel Diaz, who set her arraignment for June 9, when he will also consider a bail reduction request submitted by the defense. Best-Freeman is being held in lieu of $231,000.
Her co-defendant, 49-year-old Robert Cramer of Lake Elsinore, remains at large. He’s charged with one count of referral of a client for purposes of insurance fraud, also known as “capping.”
According to prosecutors, Best-Freeman came under investigation last September after the D.A.’s office was contacted by fraud investigators from Health Net Inc., who had flagged multiple billings from the defendant’s business, Best New Life Recovery.
The treatment facility, originally located in Murrieta, then Temecula, was licensed by the California Department of Health Care Services in 2015.
Prosecutors allege that, over a nine-month period, Best-Freeman submitted claims to Health Net and Cigna for treatments that were never provided to patients. The defendant also allegedly misclassified other services, forging or otherwise altering documents to commit acts of fraud, according to the D.A.’s office.
Cramer, the alleged “capper,” was tasked with finding prospects willing to go along with the conspiracy. He was promised $2,000 for his part, according to the prosecution.
Health Net lost just over $195,000 paying the alleged bogus claims, while Cigna suffered a $36,000 loss, according to court papers.
Best-Freeman has prior misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence and being an unlicensed operator of a motor vehicle, court records say.
–City News Service
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