New York physician Gustave Drivas was convicted of federal Medicare fraud following a trial in a Brooklyn federal court. He faces 20 years when sentenced later this summer. Medicare fraud costs taxpayers billions each year. Thankfully many of these crimes are solved by whistleblowers.
According to court records, Drivas was affiliated with a clinic in Brooklyn. He billed for more than $20 million in medical procedures that were never performed. According to the U.S. Attorney, he was a “no show” doctor. They say, he rarely visited the clinic even though billing records show he was billing millions of dollars for services.
The indictment reveals that the clinic paid kickbacks to some Medicare beneficiaries and used their names to bill more than $77 million for services that were neither medically necessary nor even performed.
“Gustave Drivas sold his license and his ethics for cold, hard cash, and was the linchpin in a scheme that defrauded the Medicare system of millions. Medicare fraud weakens a vitally important program which millions of our citizens rely upon. We will continue to be vigilant in bringing those who seek to steal from Medicare to justice,” stated United States Attorney Loretta Lynch.
In a sentencing memorandum just released, the Justice Department claims that Drivas and his colleagues primary goal was “to bilk our nation’s taxpayer-funded Medicare program out of as much money as possible.” The government has asked for a sentence within the upper ranges of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Drivas is expected to be sentenced later this summer.
Medicare fraud is not a victimless crime. Billing for medically unnecessary procedures or billing for procedures not performed causes health care costs to skyrocket and in some instances, causes truly needy patients to go without services. Because Medicare and Medicaid are funded with tax dollars, billing fraud also causes taxes to increase.
Many Medicare fraud prosecutions result from concerned employees, co-workers or even patients coming forward. The federal False Claims Act allows whistleblowers with inside information to collect a sizeable award for providing information. In most cases, the award is 20 to 25% of whatever the government collects.
To collect a whistleblower reward, you must have inside information involving waste or fraud involving a tax supported program. Awards are not limited to Medicare frauds; some of the largest awards have gone to people reporting mortgage fraud and defense contractor procurement practices.
If you have inside, non public information about health care fraud involving state or federal programs, give us a call. We represent whistleblowers and help them collect the largest award possible. More importantly, we help them put an end to fraud and patient abuse. (While some people think that health care fraud is simply an economic crime, prescribing unnecessary treatment or selling counterfeit drugs made in uninspected labs is dangerous.)
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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