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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Liberia: US Seizes $6.4 Million From Daniel Cassell 14 Months After Death

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Daniel E. Cassell, formerly of Perkasie, PA was under a 17-count state indictment when he died of an apparent heart attack at 56 years old on Christmas Day 2022.

The West African-born Cassell — who was a psychologist, business consultant and politician and founding member of Liberia’s People Liberation Party — was the president and chief executive officer of Kwenyan Professional Health Services, based in West Orange, and Ewing-based Kwenyan and Associates.

The companies operated a chain of mental health, behavioral and substance abuse clinics in Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Union, and Warren counties, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said.

Between January 2015 and October 2020, Cassell and some of his employees submitted more than 10,000 false claims for Medicaid reimbursement to the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, the attorney general said on Monday, Feb. 12.

In just about all of those, Platkin said, either “no actual services were rendered” or “group therapy services were [provided], but higher-paying individual therapy or family psychotherapy codes were falsely billed.”

Cassell fled to Liberia amid the New Jersey probe, then was arrested on a fugitive warrant in Georgia upon landing at the Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in March 2022.

A 17-count indictment returned in August of that year charged the father of six with conspiracy, health care claims fraud, Medicaid fraud and money laundering, among other offenses.

His wife, Bindu Coleman Cassell, also was accused of trying to help her husband escape justice.

Cassell — who professed his innocence throughout — was free on bail and running for president of Liberia when he died four months later.

Rather than face prosecution, Cassell’s successors entered into a consent agreement with the state of New Jersey, Platkin said.

They paid a steep price, too, agreeing to forfeit to the state:

  • 15 passenger vans for which authorities said Cassell conspired with others to get lower insurance premiums;
  • $2,437,546 from financial accounts;
  • $3,922,532 from the sale of properties in Flemington, West Orange, and Washington Township, New Jersey;
  • $47,879 in rent on five parcels of real estate.

All come to a combined total of $6,407,958 — but that’s not all.

“The state will be entitled to further proceeds after the sale of other real estate maintained by Cassell and the Kwenyan entities,” Platkin said.

“This was not a small number of illegitimate claims for payment, but rather the systematic submission of false claims — thousands of them — over several years, defrauding taxpayers of millions of dollars,” the attorney general said.

Deputy Attorneys General Vladimir D’Argenio and Charisse M. Penalver prosecuted the case for the Office of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prosecutor – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Detective Michael Rosati led the investigation.

The civil asset forfeiture proceedings were handled by DAsG Leslie-Ann M. Justus and Laticia M. Wright in OIFP’s Case Screening, Litigation, and Analytical Support Section.

Assisting were the New Jersey Treasury Department’s Office of Criminal Investigation; the Hilltown Township PA Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in Jonesboro, GA.

Jerry DeMarco

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