Perpetrators commit fraud for many reasons, but serious character flaws can usually be linked to the rationalization of any crime. An article in The Miami Herald details the story of a flashy Miami Osteopath who had a bit of a problem with self-justification when standing before the judge. His criminal actions cost Medicare nearly $2 million and his failure to take responsibility landed him with a lengthier than anticipated prison sentence. (I guess this guy didn’t get the memo about being humble during sentencing.)
The story states that the Miami Beach doctor, dubbed the ‘Rock Doc’ because of his spiked hair and punk-like metal and leather accoutrements, billed Medicare for $5 million in ultrasounds, massages and various physical therapy services that were not necessary nor provided over about a two-year period. (Who wouldn’t like to have a back rub, compliments of the government?) Some of the services actually provided and billed for were delivered by employees not licensed to perform the medical treatments. (During his trial, the doctor stated he was unaware of a Medicare policy that required his employees to be licensed physical therapists in order to perform some of the services.)
After being scrutinized by the government benefits program for suspected wrongdoing, the Medicare payments dwindled and the 54-year-old closed down his clinic, citing exhaustion and alcoholism. To pay the bills, he then went to work for a ‘pill mill’ where he ended up prescribing unlawful painkillers to undercover law enforcement agents on three occasions. Court documents show that the Osteopathic physician pocketed $428,000 by prescribing the narcotics, even though they were not medically necessary.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped 14 healthcare fraud charges against the Osteopath and he had to surrender his home and Mercedes-Benz. Although the doctor apologized for the mistakes he made, he didn’t entirely own up to bilking Medicare. Therefore, the judge prescribed nearly six years in prison plus $1.5 million in restitution. (I’m sure that was a bitter pill to swallow.)
The punk ‘Rock Doc’ now sports a gray pony tail and probably an orange jump suit. There will be no more rubbing elbows with celebrities and it is a certainty that this character-flawed criminal will not be receiving any government-sponsored backrubs while in prison.