Healthcare Business News

Doc pleads guilty in Medicare fraud case

By Ashok Selvam
Posted: November 27, 2012 - 12:00 pm ET

A Los Angeles-area doctor pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to charges that he and his co-defendants bilked Medicare out of $5.8 million in fraudulent claims, according to a Justice Department news release.

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Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putten, 66, of Ladera Heights, Calif., admitted to accepting cash from durable medical equipment supply companies to write patient prescriptions for power wheelchairs and other equipment his patients didn't need, according to the Justice Department. Van Putten and his co-defendants submitted about $11.1 million in false Medicare claims and received $5.8 million. Van Putten pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, which could send him to prison for a maximum of 10 years with a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28 in front of U.S. District Judge George Wu of the Central District of California.

The doctor practiced at Greater South Bay Medical Group in Carson, Calif. He also saw patients from a nursing home where recruiters solicited patients with Medicare benefits, hoping to defraud the system, and Van Putten admitted he knew his actions were illegal, according to the Justice Department.

Van Putten's co-defendants include church pastor Charles Agbu and his daughter, Obiageli Agbu. They operated Bonfee Medical Supplies and Ibon, both based in Carson. They are scheduled for trial Feb. 26. Three others—Dr. Emmanuel Ayodele, Alejandro Maciel and Candalaria Estrada—also face charges in the scheme.

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