United States charges 601 people in healthcare fraud, opioid crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrive for a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington U.S. Ju

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against 601 people including doctors for taking part in health care frauds that resulted in over $2 billion in losses and contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic in some cases.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced on June 28 it had filed 16 criminal cases against 33 Southern California defendants as part of a nationwide sweep to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of roughly $2 billion in health care fraud. One of the physicians arrested is suspected of distributing 2.2 million unnecessary doses of painkillers, according to remarks from Sessions.

He also assigned a dozen prosecutors to focus exclusively on investigating and prosecuting opioid-related healthcare fraud in districts in need.

Over 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.

That includes 124 people in South Florida.

"In many cases, doctors, nurses and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets", Sessions stated.

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The case is considered the largest fraud in healthcare in us history.

The charged podiatrists, Domenic Signorelli, 51, of Irvine, and Robert Joseph, 51, of Huntington Beach, along with several other unnamed co-conspirator doctors, allegedly received kickbacks for "writing" the prescriptions.

In numerous cases patient recruiters, beneficiaries and others involved in the schemes were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, allowing the providers to submit fraudulent bills to Medicare, according to court documents. The treatment facility's CEO, Paul R. Materia, 43, and patient brokers Joseph Lubowitz, 29, and Christopher Fuller, 33, were charged with illegally recruiting patients, paying kickbacks and defrauding healthcare programs by billing for urine testing and substance abuse treatment that were medically unnecessary.

Charges against Dr. Bingston Crosby, a chiropractor, include health care fraud, money laundering and mail fraud, authorities said.

Abrahamson, a licensed podiatrist, was charged with one count of health care fraud. I want to thank our fabulous partners with the FBI, DEA, our Health Care Fraud task forces, HHS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Medicare, and especially the more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers from across America who made this possible.

Two other defendants are accused of operating three "false-front" medical clinics that resulted in $4.7 million in false medical billings submitted to three insurance companies and $258,000 paid in false billings, the prosecutor said.

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