A federal judge sentenced a California physician last week on charges related to his alleged defrauding of Medicare and illegal prescriptions of opioids.
Prosecutors say the 56-year-old Californian prescribed unnecessary home health services in exchange for illegal kickbacks. From early 2011 through the spring of 2016, the defendant submitted fraudulent paperwork to Medicare in order to receive the improper reimbursements, and he said in his guilty plea that he either did not see the patients to whom the equipment was prescribed or only saw them for a brief, superficial examination.
In addition, prosecutors say the doctor prescribed almost 24,000 pills of hydrocodone (Vicodin) and over 38,000 pills of carisoprodol (Soma) from early 2013 through early 2016. He allegedly directed his staff to write the scrips, despite the fact that they were not medical professionals. Investigators say he often pre-signed prescriptions or had the staff sign using his signature. One patient was only seen once for a brief exam before the defendant wrote prescriptions for opioids and muscle relaxers for the patient for over a year and a half.
Last week U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of the Central District of California sentenced the defendant to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release on the defendant’s guilty plea on charges of one count of health care fraud and one count of distribution of hydrocodone. He was also sentenced to pay $509,365 in restitution, $494,900 in asset forfeiture, and a fine of $72,000. Four other co-defendants in the case previously pled guilty to related charges and have been sentenced accordingly.