Los Angeles Doctor Acquitted on Charges of Conspiracy and Falsification of Records Relating to 2003 Liver Transplant

According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Richard R. Lopez, Jr., head of the liver transplant program at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, was acquitted by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Friday, on charges conspiracy, concealment of material fact and falsification of records. The charges related to a liver transplant in 2003. Dr. Lopez acknowledged that he was involved in a decision to give a liver intended for a patient to another patient more than 50 places down the transplant waiting list, which constituted a violation of transplant rules. The government charged Dr. Lopez with orchestrating a cover up of the violation. The liver was intended for a patient residing in Saudi Arabia, and was given to another patient residing in Saudi Arabia. Under the transplant rules, the organ should have been given to the next person on the list--a patient at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.

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St. Vincent initially reported the actual recipient of the liver to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, non-group contracted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which oversees transplantation nationwide. Later the same day, the hospital's staff retracted the notification and incorrectly reported that the liver had gone to the individual which it had been offered to. The government alleged that St. Vincent continued to file false documents concerning the liver. The defense argued that Dr. Lopez had no knowledge of the falsification of the documents, and that Dr. Lopez was being made “a scapegoat for everything that was wrong at St. Vincent’s.”

St. Vincent has subsequently shut down its liver transplant program.


For serious criminal matters, contact the offices of Gillen Withers & Lake LLC in Savannah or Atlanta.

Cartersville Pain Management Clinic Physician and Employees Federally Charged for Unlawful Oxycodone Prescriptions

A doctor and four employees of Atlanta Medical Group, a pain management clinic, in Cartersville, Bartow County, were arrested last week by FBI agents, according to Examiner.com. Dr. James Chapman, Jason Cole Votrobek, Jesse Violante, Roland Rafael Castellanos and Tara Atkins have been indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for allegedly distributing hundreds of thousands of oxycodone pills.

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The government charges that the defendants sought to see as many patients as possible and issue as many prescriptions for the drug as possible, while failing to conduct sufficient medical examinations. The defendants are also charged with using non-physician staff to issue prescriptions for oxycodone. The clinic is alleged to have made millions of dollars despite having been in operation for approximately one year. The defendants are alleged to have concealed the profits in numerous bank accounts with third-party names.

Head of Georgia Medical Equipment Provider Indicted for Medicare Fraud; Atlanta Inmate Indicted for Selling "Cooperation" Information to Defendants

Samuel Curtis, III, a Texas resident, has been charged with four counts of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia for allegedly attempting to steal more than $500,000 from Medicare, according to an article in the Florida Times-Union. Curtis is alleged to have operated Perferred Prosthetics and Orthotics, a medical equipment supply company doing business in Georgia and Texas, and to have allegedly stolen information from Medicare physicians and recipients and used the information to submit false claims to Medicare. The indictment alleges that Curtis and others routinely billed Medicare for ankle, knee and back braces and other medical devices that either were never provided to patients, were not medically necessary or had not been prescribed by a doctor. Curtis' associate, Cecil Risher, of Brunswick, Georgia, was arrested earlier in the investigation.

In other Georgia news, according to 7th Space, Sandeo Dyson, a former inmate of the Atlanta City Detention Center, has found himself indicted once again in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for allegedly obtaining information about crimes being committed in Georgia and North Carolina from other inmates and then selling the information to criminal defendants in cases in the Northern District for five to ten thousand dollars apiece, earning an approximately $50,000 from the scheme. The defendants would offer the information provided by Dyson to have their sentences reduced for cooperation. Dyson allegedly instructed the defendants to lie to authorities by concealing the fact that they had no real personal knowledge of the proffered information, and had  purchased the information from Dyson. Dyson is charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and to make false statements, three counts of obstruction of justice, and two counts of false statements.


Six Indicted for Alleged Medicare Fraud in South Georgia; Augusta Man Indicted for Alleged Fraud from Federally-Funded Meals for Children Program

Federal criminal activity has been brisk in the Southern District of Georgia. First, six defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud Medicare and money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The charges were the result of a nationwide investigation which included the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which has resulted in the arrests of more than 35 defendants across the country.

The government has alleged that, beginning in 2006, the defendants allegedly opened five sham medical clinics in Savannah, Macon and Brunswick, and allegedly stole the identities of physicians and Medicare beneficiaries. The defendants are alleged to have submitted over $4 million in false claims to Medicare for services which were allegedly never provided. Nationwide, the scheme is alleged to have cost Medicare $163 million. The Georgia defendants are also charged with allegedly laundering the proceeds through various shell corporations.

Later in the week, an Augusta man was indicted for allegedly defrauding a program which provided meals to low income children in the Savannah River area under the Federal Head Start program of tens of thousands of dollars.


Adult Urinary Incontinence Supplies Fraud? DME Owner Pleads Guilty to Healthcare Fraud and Identity Theft

In another sign that nothing is sacred and no area safe from crime, even the adult undergarment industry has now been marred by fraud. Benjamin Essien, 34, owner and operator of Logic World Medical, a Houston-based durable medical equipment (DME) company, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, five counts of healthcare fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, according to a press release by the FBI. Essein was charged with a scheme which began in 2004 of using names, addresses and account numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries to file false claims for adult urinary incontinence supplies many of which were never delivered to the beneficiaries, some of which were never purchased from suppliers, and which were not needed or were never prescribed by a physician. Essein continued to bill Medicaid for the supplies--which included adult diapers, underpads, wipes, and pull-up briefs--even after his delivery contractors were informed by the beneficiaries that they did not need or want the supplies. Essien billed Medicaid for the maximum amount allowable for supplies each month per beneficiary including extra large size diaper briefs, which apparently have the highest Medicaid reimbursement rate, regardless of the actual size needed by the beneficiary. it is alleged that Essein received payments from Medicaid for claims totaling approximately $1,101,865.37. he will be sentenced in May.