RIVERSIDE – The owner of a Temecula drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, who’s accused of filing fraudulent medical insurance claims that netted her more than $200,000 in ill-gotten gains, pleaded not guilty Friday, June 9, to felony charges and was released from custody.
Brooke Elizabeth Best-Freeman, 34, was arrested June 1 and is facing 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 before Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz, who set a June 22 felony settlement conference at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Diaz also granted a defense motion to release the defendant on her own recognizance, stipulating only that she not leave California pending the resolution of her case. She had been held in lieu of $231,000 at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
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 in September after the district attorney’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.
Cramer was allegedly tasked with finding prospects willing to go along with the conspiracy. He was promised $2,000 for his part, the prosecution alleges.
Health Net lost just over $195,000 paying the alleged bogus claims, while Cigna incurred 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, according to court records.