Former health care CEO sentenced in fraud case

Sandra Haar, 59, of Merced, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neil to five years in prison and ordered to pay $6.1 million in restitution for health care fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

Haar was ordered to surrender Jan. 15, 2020, to begin serving her sentence.

Haar was the founder and chief executive officer of Horisons Unlimited, a non-profit public benefit corporation that provided health and dental services in Merced and surrounding communities, including Gustine and Newman.

According to court documents, between Jan. 1, 2014 and March 2017, Haar orchestrated a scheme to bill Medicare and Medi-Cal for services she knew were not reimbursable, and she profited by over $3.7 million from her fraud. For example, authorities said, Haar billed Medi‑ Cal for health and dental services that were not rendered and for unnecessary health care services. The Department of Justice reported that she also billed Medi-Cal for office visits with purportedly licensed doctors when the patients instead were dispensed Suboxone, an opioid medication, in the parking lots of McDonald’s and Rite Aid in baggies. 

According to court documents, Haar also received thousands of dollars in kickbacks in cash from an account executive at a laboratory in exchange for using it for patients’ laboratory testing.

Man stabbed in Gustine altercation

Gustine police have filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office against a man who investigators say was stabbed by another individual in self-defense during an altercation Friday morning, authorities reported.

Authorities told Mattos Newspapers that the complaint was filed against Meliton Hernandez Martinez, 22, of Winton.

According to Acting Lt. Samuel Joseph, the incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Friday at the Gustine Chevron when Martinez allegedly made an inappropriate gesture toward a female outside the store.

Joseph said the woman’s husband, identified as Orlando Gomez, age 30, no city of address listed, told police that he confronted Martinez and the incident escalated.

According to police reports, Gomez reached down and placed his hand on a pocket knife clipped on a pants pocket, at which time Martinez asked Gomez if he was going to stab him and started punching him in the face. Gomez reportedly removed the knife, opened it and stabbed Martinez once in the stomach.

Martinez walked away but later came back at Gomez and started to punch him a second time before again walking away, according to the synopsis provided by Joseph.

Joseph said Martinez was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

He said that investigators determined Martinez was the instigator and aggressor in the incident, leading police to file the complaint of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm for striking Gomez.

Newman fire report

Personnel from the Newman Fire Department and West Stanislaus Fire Protection District Newman station received 22 calls for service from Oct. 28 through Nov. 3.

Fire Chief Keith Bowen said calls for service included 13 medical aid responses, three motor vehicle accidents, a vehicle fire, four public assists and one vegetation fire.

The collision responses included two injury accidents which occurred in little more than an hour’s time on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Bowen said both drivers were injured in a two-vehicle accident shortly before 6 p.m. at Highway 33 and Sherman Parkway. One driver was trapped and required extrication, Bowen reported. Both were transported to area hospitals.

The second occurred shortly before 7 p.m. at Merced and Main streets and resulted in one individual sustaining moderate injuries, Bowen reported. The injured party was transported to a local emergency room, he said.

On Nov. 2 shortly before 7 a.m. firefighters were dispatched to an incident on Interstate 5 near Stuhr Road. On arrival, the fire officer located two vehicles, one over an embankment, and occupants complaining of minor injuries. One occupant was transported to a local emergency room, Bowen reported.

West Side weather

Newman resident Marge Carvalho, an observer for the National Weather Service, reported the following high/low temperatures for the past week. Readings for the previous 24-hour period are taken at 5 p.m. daily.

Monday, Oct. 28: 85/34

Tuesday, Oct. 29: 79/38

Wednesday, Oct. 30: 74/34

Thursday, Oct. 31: 78/35

Friday, Nov. 1: 81/33

Saturday, Nov. 2: 81/35

Sunday, Nov. 3: 84/35