Senior living executives sentenced

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated.

The former chief operating officer of American Senior Communities was sentenced to 4½ years in prison last week as part of a fraud scheme that also took down the company's CEO.

Daniel Benson, 54, had taken a plea deal related to charges of a schemed that garnered more than $19 million illegally.

While former CEO James Burkhart was sentenced to close to a decade in prison after prosecutors described him as the fraud scheme mastermind, Benson was still a major figure, authorities said. They said he used the money to buy, among other items, a $50,000 watch, a vacation home on Lake Michigan, a New York City apartment and a large home in Fishers, IN.

The fraud occurred when nursing home vendors sent inflated invoices to ASC, which were then filed with numerous shell companies.

Benson pleaded guilty to committing mail, wire and healthcare fraud, conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute and money laundering. Two of the other participants in the scheme, Joshua Burkhart and Steve Ganote, also pleaded guilty. Ganote received a five-year prison sentence.  Burkhart, the brother of the former CEO, received a sentence of four months plus two years of supervised release.