October 19, 2015
An orthopedic surgeon delegated hundreds of operations to a medical assistant and scammed insurance companies to the tune of $150 million in a huge fraud conspiracy, according to Los Angeles prosecutors.
Fifteen people were charged in a case that involved 10 years of unnecessary surgeries, scarring many of them for life. In addition, the surgeon and others wrote expensive prescriptions, changed test results in order to justify the surgeries and falsified MRI reports. Outside individuals, including workers’ compensation attorneys and marketers, were paid as much as $10,000 monthly to refer patients to the clinic. They received two levels of bonuses – first, for those who might need an operation and second, for those who actually had surgery. In some cases, even the patients received financial incentives to undergo surgery.
The Orange County surgeries date back to 2005, and the charges against him include 21 counts of aggravated mayhem, each involving separate individuals. In addition to permanent scarring, others needed numerous follow-up corrective operations. Charges against other defendants include mayhem in aiding the scheme and insurance fraud, and they could receive up to life in prison if convicted.
On September 9, 2015, the surgeon was taken into custody in Germany with extradition planned to the U.S. He reportedly left the U.S. in 2010 for Lebanon, his country of origin, after he was investigated for fraud and possible murder of a former girlfriend. He was not charged in that case although his office manager was later charged but eventually acquitted. She has also been detained in the insurance fraud scheme, but her attorney doesn’t believe she can be connected to the case despite the prosecution’s claim that her name was allegedly listed on shell corporations for the surgeon and that she was involved in weekly meetings with him regarding the hiding of assets.
Even when someone is convicted in a criminal matter, the victim might have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for related damages, such as permanent scarring or botched surgeries. An attorney can provide additional counsel on a case-by-case basis.