Another employee at one of several New York medical clinics accused of using a special "kickback room" to pay off Medicare beneficiaries who didn't need services has pleaded guilty, but the two physicians who claimed to have rendered the services are still facing trial.
Facing healthcare fraud, conspiracy and kickback charges are Dr. Gustave Drivas, the owner and president of Bay Medical Care in Brooklyn and a principal in two related clinics that had offices on Bay Parkway in Brooklyn, and Dr. Jonathan Wahl, an attending physician at the clinics. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges brought in 2010 and are awaiting trial, court records in the Eastern District of New York say.
A total of 16 people, including the two doctors, have been charged in the alleged conspiracy. To date, 11 defendants have pleaded guilty, and five are awaiting trial scheduled for Jan. 22.
A news release from the U.S. Justice Department
said clinic employee Yuri Khandrius, 50, pleaded guilty Monday to the three counts against him and faces up to 25 years in prison during a March 2013 sentencing hearing.
The indictment against the alleged conspirators (PDF)
says the three clinics received $47 million in Medicare reimbursements between 2005 and 2010 for fraudulent claims for services including physical therapy, nerve conduction tests, echocardiography, allergy services, vestibular function tests, sleep studies, vitamin infusion, lab services, podiatry services and urology services.
In reality, the indictment says, Medicare patients were being secretly paid to receive those services and tests, and clinic employees created false medical records to justify the bills or make it appear services were rendered when they were not.
The indictment describes a Jan. 13, 2010 meeting in the secret kickback room in which two alleged conspirators exchanged the patient files of a federal confidential source, who then received payments for receiving fraudulent services at the clinic.