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Ex-Sacred Heart Hospital exec gets 21 months for kickback scheme

The former chief operating officer of Sacred Heart Hospital was sentenced Friday to 21 months in prison for a kickback scheme that paid doctors to refer patients to the now-closed facility.

Clarence Naglevoort was convicted in March, alongside the hospital’s owner and CEO Edward Novak, and finance chief Roy Payawal.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly handed down the sentence at a hearing Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Naglevoort, 60, of Chicago, will also be jointly liable for an $8.48 million forfeiture together with Novak and Payawal.

The bribes paid at Sacred Heart ensured that poor, elderly, vulnerable and usually black patients from far flung corners of the city would be driven by ambulance past far better hospitals to be admitted to Sacred Heart, which could then bill taxpayers for treatment, prosecutors said.

The case first hit the headlines when federal agents raided the hospital in 2013, alleging that doctors were essentially kidnapping patients and bringing them to the West Side hospital.

Prosecutors said the quality of care provided by physicians at the hospital was, “at best, an afterthought.” Sacred Heat closed in 2013 in the aftermath of the criminal indictments.

Novak was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison, and Payawal was sentenced to one year and one day at separate hearings earlier this week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Six other physicians or executives have also been convicted in the case and await sentencing.