By Gordon Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org | Additional reporting by Richard Sullins | email@example.com
A pastor with Life Springs Church in Sanford who has been central in the effort to found a local “Dream Center” to combat human trafficking, addiction and homelessness appears to have pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges in 2021 and is set to be sentenced later this month, according to court documents.
Daniel Owens of Sanford was charged in September 2021 with “conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks” in the United States District Court’s eastern Pennsylvania district. A lengthy charging document outlines a detailed scheme to recruit people to undergo unnecessary cancer screening tests. Once the screens had taken place, Owens and other “individuals” are alleged to have received kickbacks from a provider in Florida that performed the tests and billed them to Medicare. Four other defendants are referred to in the charging document as Individuals 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each is identified as living outside North Carolina.
A court order also dated September 2021 indicates the records against Individuals 1, 2, 3 and 4 were impounded, or sealed, to ensure “the confidentiality of an ongoing criminal investigation and the safety of cooperating witnesses.”
Owens is alleged in the charging document to have netted as much as “$10,961 in kickbacks and bribes” between March and April 2020. He pleaded guilty in November 2021.
“Owens, Individual 3, and Individual 4 were part of a network of recruiters throughout the United States, managed by Individual 2, who targeted Medicare beneficiaries with marketing campaigns to induce them to submit to (cancer screening tests) regardless of medical necessity” the charging document reads.
Court documents indicate Owens has been free on bail since his guilty plea, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 24 of this year in Philadelphia before Judge Mark A. Kearney. The maximum penalty for violating the federal anti-kickback statute is either 10 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
Life Springs Action Team, a subsidiary of Life Springs Church which proposes to build and operate the Dream Center, was the recipient of a controversial $500,000 grant from the Lee County Board of Commissioners in November. The vote has since come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons – first, its speed (the grant was approved the night it was introduced, even after County Manager Dr. John Crumpton recommended further study), and later because it was determined that LSAT did not have necessary IRS approval as a nonprofit entity. That means the county is unable to enter into a contract on the Dream Center proposal until nonprofit status is approved.
There are at least two Daniel Owens in Sanford, but one of the court documents obtained by The Rant shows an email address for Owens matching one he used on the application to Lee County government for the LSAT Dream Center funding. Additionally, the charging document lists Owens as the owner of “People Loving People,” a local nonprofit organization. Owens can be seen in many photos and videos on the People Loving People Facebook page and is listed as the organization’s registered agent on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.
Phone messages and emails to Owens were not answered Wednesday.
The grant allocation issue came before the Board of Commissioners again on Monday, after Democratic Commissioner Mark Lovick requested a discussion on the process by which the grant was awarded and how an entity without nonprofit status approved could be given any funding at all. The following day, LSAT announced in a Facebook video featuring Owens and Dale Sauls, also a pastor at Life Springs that the organization was withdrawing its proposal but would reapply when the nonprofit status is granted.
Dream Center proponents have noted that the concept originated in Los Angeles. Owens filed with the federal court a request to modify the conditions of his pretrial release in the spring of 2022 so he could attend a “religious seminar” in Los Angeles. Documents appear to indicate Owens was granted permission to leave North Carolina at the time, but whether the seminar had any connection to the LSAT Dream Center project is unknown.
Surprise, Surprise….not really.
What a sleaze. And under the guise of being a “Christian”. He better get to “praying”!!
Not really shocking. Most people who claim to be “Christian” nowadays are the biggest assholes you will ever find. They hide under the cloak of spirituality so they can get away with stuff and then are shocked when they finally get caught. Don’t know how old you are but do you remember one preacher, evangelist, “christian” who said this …” I have sinned against you.” Same thing back then as it is today. I’m all for worshipping, and enjoying faith, but those who are in charge of it for the public, really need to get their heads out of their asses and remember they can really scar people and put them off on Religion as a whole due to their own actions. Lead by example.
Martin I mostly agree, however I believe instead of saying “Most Christians” should be replaced with “Some Christians” would be a whole lot fairer. I don’t think anyone thinks most Christian people are bad.
So let me get this right… Mr Owens logs onto the website called indeed looking for a job… They set him up with a job behind a computer working from home he never met his employer face to face or his supervisor…. He was asked to call people and set them up for cancer screening people he had never met…. He gets a paycheck and the feds are knocking on his door…. When you work from home on the internet you really don’t know who you are working for think about it…. Everyday millions of people get jobs on the internet and never know who they are working for…
You really need to read the charging documents. He created sham invoices for the exact amount of the kickback.
Corruption is everywhere in our society and starts at the Executive branch of Government. X U.S. Paratrooper
I hope the rant will tell the truth about all this instead of painting the picture they have done. For anyone interested, you can go to Life Springs and Life Springs Dream Center Facebook page and hear their side of the story. Always remember that with ANY news article, there’s 2 sided to the story.
The truth is that it’s a scam cooked up by a convicted felon.
Owens pled “guilty”. Sounds like the story must be pretty accurate!
This is a very sad situation. He had a good reputation in the community and seem to do a lot of good in the community. People defending him seem to think he was not aware what he was doing was illegal. That may be true. But it does seem wrong that he hid it knowing people would not like having someone guilty of fraud in charge of 500k of tax payer money. Also, do we want someone who can be so easily sucked into an illegal scam in charge of a half million of our tax money. Furthermore, he might have to go to prison at the end of the month if the judge decided that is his sentencing. I wonder if this is why the IRS approval is being held up. It seems selfish if he hid this from LS. This makes them look bad. If they knew and did not disclose it then shame on them. If they did not know then it looks bad they did not vet their executive director. This and the fact despite hiring an accountant, a lawyer, and after running a church for decades they did not understand the process to obtain their non-profit status makes me pause and think they do not have the expertise to handle a half million dollars. Yes, no one is perfect and I do not think this should define him, the church, or the dream center but I cannot help but think there is too much shadiness going on with this funding and the commissioners should not approve it if they reapply. They need to get their house in order. The commissioners need to get their house in order too. Well, the ones who pushed this through do. Why did they not follow their own processes and procedures? Why the rush? Was there a question on the application asking if anyone had been charged or convicted of a financial crime? Lastly, I hope and pray for a spectacular redemption story for Daniel in a few years.
Yeah and didn’t know but collected hundreds of thousands of dollars! Sounds like he knew what he was doing when he made that guilty plea!
Ok, is Dale Saul’s still with this church , & if so , is he involved in any of this ?
On the Facebook page, in his response video, he says he knew the whole time and still made Owens the executive director. He is saying Owens did not know he was doing some illegal. Maybe he did not at the time but a part in the charging document gives me pause. Regardless, people had a right to know this. Whether Owens was duped into a scheme or not he still has a financial fraud felony on his record. That is a big deal. Knowing all this and not disclosing it is shady and erodes any trust I may have had.
Here is the part in the charging document that give me pause.
“In an effort to conceal the scheme, defendant DANIEL OWENS entered into a sham contract with Individual 1, which disguised the kickbacks and bribes as payments for purported marketing services. Defendant OWENS also sent sham invoices to Individual 1 and Individual 2 which corresponded with the per-swab kickback amount.”
Ok, thank you, yes & yes, I thought so, they are referring to each other as number’s , all this drama would make a good episode of 20 20 on tv , lol
Once again the Rant spews it’s twisted agenda!!! Amazing how all the other supposed defendant’s are nameless?? I don’t know what you have against Pastor Owens but I do know that one day you will be held accountable for your actions!!!
As previously stated, the other defendants are not residents of NC and the investigation is ongoing.
The other defendants are not the director of an organization requesting $ from Lee County, either.
“A court order also dated September 2021 indicates the records against Individuals 1, 2, 3 and 4 were impounded, or sealed, to ensure “the confidentiality of an ongoing criminal investigation and the safety of cooperating witnesses.”
The Rant did not conceal the other names, the court did.
This is not personal. How is reporting facts from court documents twisted? Would you give someone your personal information and have them do your taxes if they plead guilty to financial fraud even if they say they were duped? You do not think the commissioners had a right to know this before voting to give 500k of our tax dollars to an organization in which he is in charge of? Seems like he does not have the background to handle finances. He got sucked into a scheme. Someone more savvy about finances needs to be in charge.
Carol, you’re an idiot.
It’s person 1, person 2, etc., because those ppl are cooperating with the government, and will be named later. You seem to think The Rant is withholding their names, which is – idiotic.
Your veiled threat (I guess about hell, but with you, who knows?) is also idiotic. If you’re the kind of Christian that LSC churns out, then I’m oh, so glad I’m not one.
Ah, so that’s why the Republicans have been ramming this through so quickly: they’re getting kickbacks from this con man who is known to concoct kickback schemes. Now it all makes sense. The local GOP is just a bunch of crooks. And they would totally get away with it if not for The Rant. This has to be the best local paper in the country.
Agree, V – The Rant is always in the ball and chasing down the details that some (many) want to remain hidden so they can perpetrate their illegal schemes and scams. I second any nomination for an award for their reporting.
Ahhh… Now the rush by the republicans is starting to make sense.
Two places to find thieves and crooks…. Churches and the Republican Party. Not surprised and it’s sad.
Mr. Stone. It’s not fair to assume all Republicans are like this one. My business partner is Republican and is one of the most honest people I have had the privilege of working with. Let’s keep the conversation civil please and not group all people into the same category. Thank you.
Some people are too ignorant to understand when they are getting a kickback. I’m not saying this is the case here, but you would be amazed how easily some are taken into criminal activity.
Anyone that has to tell you they are a Christian, probably is not. Real Christians act not talk.
Separation between Church and State is also there to protect the Church and prevent it from doing things that lead to public vilification that goes hand and hand with politics.
Give me a break….Fair enough, some, not all.
Give me a break …..fair enough. Some, not all