Published: Aug 10, 2010 7:43 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 10, 2010 4:43 PM EDT

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) - A former southwest Florida hospital executive is accusing a health operator of paying doctors to refer Medicare patients to the company's hospitals.

A lawsuit filed by Michael Mastej claims that Health Management Associates also offered free rent and private jet trips to entice doctors. The lawsuit filed in January was unsealed recently in Tampa federal court.

A telephone message left for HMA and the state attorney's office weren't immediately returned.

Health News Florida reports that Mastej, a former resident of Bonita Springs in Lee County, now lives in Blairsville, Ga.

The lawsuit does not specify the number of claims, but says the alleged fraud started in 2007. The company operates approximately 56 hospitals in 15 states.