Thursday, March 11, 2010

Healthcare: Detroit Area Physician Convicted of Healthcare Fraud and Jailed

A jury in U.S. District Court in Detroit has returned verdicts of guilty in the prosecution of a physician charged in an $18 million healthcare fraud. Jose Castro-Ramirez, M.D., was convicted of 13 counts of Medicare fraud and money laundering. The court remanded Ramirez into custody pending his sentencing.

Ramirez and others took part in a scheme to defraud Medicare of millions of dollars. The scheme billed the national health insurance program for physical therapy and rehabilitation services that were never provided. Ramirez's role in the fraud was to sign phony physical therapy prescriptions. The prescriptions served as the basis for the fraudulent billing of Medicare. In addition, Ramirez wrote prescriptions for painkillers that the schemers gave to Medicare beneficiaries as inducements to allow the use of their Medicare numbers in the operation of the scheme.

While Ramirez had been free during the trial, the court refused to continue his release after conviction. Instead, he was remanded into custody pending his sentencing. The court found that Ramirez had issues with his credibility and that factor served as the basis for his incarceration.

In February Ramirez had been taken from the court in an ambulance. After the incident, Ramirez had filed a motion seeking to delay the trial due to his ill health. The court ordered a physical examination by Ramirez's own physician who found the defendant fit for trial. Additionally, toward the end of the trial, Ramirez began to appear in court with an oxygen tank. The FBI conducted a surveillance of Ramirez and found that he did not use the oxygen from the time he left his home until he arrived at court. Only at court did he employ the oxygen tank, apparently for its effect on the jury. These were the primary credibility issues leading the court to imprison Ramirez.

Ramirez will be sentenced in June.

For more about the conviction, please see The Detroit News, "Farmington Doctor Guilty in $1.8M Medicare Fraud Case," March 11, 2010,$18M-Medicare-fraud-case.

No comments: