On November 18, 2021, a Tallahassee surgeon was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for committing health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The scheme involved performing hundreds of medically unnecessary, invasive surgical procedures on his patients.
The defendant, a dual citizen of the United States and Ghana, pled guilty to all 58 counts against him in federal court on December 18, 2020. Jason R. Cody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the sentence. Read more about the sentencing here.
Compromising the Health and Safety of Patients For Illegal Profit.
For almost four years, beginning in 2016 until his arrest in February 2020, it is alleged that the surgeon solicited his victims by establishing relationships with churches, nursing homes, hospitals, and outreach organizations. The 58-count indictment alleges the surgeon defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by billing for dozens of procedures that he never performed. A detailed list shows each claim was for more than $21,000. Federal prosecutors said that the claims that were improperly billed reached $23 million.
A later motion filed by the government alleges that the doctor’s calendar showed that he performed 14 surgeries in one day.
In addition to performing unnecessary surgical procedures, the doctor was accused of victimizing others by falsifying their medical records to reflect surgical procedures that he did not perform. He created erroneous and misleading medical records that could cause doctors who treated the same patients in the future to commit errors in their treatment of the same patients.
The Consequences of the Surgeon’s Actions.
In addition to prison time, the sentence included forfeiture of the surgeon’s assets in the United States and overseas. The assets included luxury vehicles, jewelry, and homes located in Manhattan, Miami, and Houston. The court also ordered the payment of $28.4 million in restitution.
“Instead of caring for his patients, this defendant targeted vulnerable members of our community, subjected them to unnecessary surgical procedures, and falsified documents so he could line his pockets with millions of taxpayer dollars,” a law enforcement authority reportedly stated.
Click here to read the press release in full issued from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to learn more.
To read about a similar case involving another healthcare professional, click here to read my prior blog.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal defense representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, and other health providers in healthcare fraud investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare and Medicaid investigations, Office of Inspector General (OIG) actions, Department of Health (DOH) investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
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Paavola, Amy. “Florida physician gets 7-year sentence for $29M fraud scheme.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (November 18, 2021). Web.
AHLA. “Florida Surgeon Draws Seven-Year Prison Term for $28 Million Health Care Fraud.” American Health Law Association. (December 3, 2021). Web.
Casey, Monica. “Florida Surgeon Draws Seven-Year Prison Term for $28 Million Health Care Fraud.” WCTV. (November 18, 2021). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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