U.S. Physician Pleads Guilty In $17.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Second Detroit-Area Physician Pleads Guilty In $17.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

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A second Detroit-area physician pleaded guilty today for his role in a $17.1 million Medicare fraud scheme involving medically unnecessary physician visits and drug prescriptions.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Leonard Van Gelder, 69, of Caledonia, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Sentencing will be set at a later date.

Van Gelder was a physician for Lake Michigan Mobile Doctors, a Chicago-based home physician service with an office in Southfield, Michigan, from November 2011 to August 2013.  As part of his guilty plea, Van Gelder admitted that he saw patients who did not qualify for his services and whose visits were billed to Medicare at the highest billing codes.

Van Gelder also admitted that he prescribed to patients medically unnecessary narcotics, such as Vicodin, in exchange for the ability to bill Medicare for the patients’ visits.  According to court documents, Mobile Doctors billed Medicare approximately $17.1 million as a result of the scheme.

In December 2016, Van Gelder’s co-conspirator, Stephen Mason, 46, of Zionsville, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. One additional doctor, Gerald Daneshvar, 41, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, is awaiting trial.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Fraud Section Trial Attorney Amy Markopoulos is prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $11 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

[Source: U.S Department of Justice -/- Media Relations]
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