According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Dr. Gustave Drivas will be serving 151 months in prison and paying $77 million for his participation in a scheme to defraud Medicare.
Drivas was convicted in April of this year and sentenced Monday. For his part, Drivas allowed a medical clinic in Brooklyn to submit bills to Medicare using his billing number. Drivas never practiced medicine at the facility, instead, according to the DOJ’s release, Drivas put in an appearance at the facility to pick up his paycheck.
“Medicare suffers from rampant fraud,” commented Christopher Paulos, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas of qui tam or whistleblower and False Claims Act litigation. “Unfortunately, due to the enormity of a program like Medicare, it can be nearly impossible to evaluate the validity of every claim for payment. Often, it takes an insider with knowledge of the false claims to step forward, report schemes, and stop the wrongdoing.”
Related Story: Feds Intervene, Stark Law Says “No” to Doctor Kickbacks
The facility that Drivas worked with, according to evidence entered at trial, used the doctor’s Medicare billing number to charge Medicare for more than $20 million of procedures that were never performed. For his involvement, he was compensated to the tune of $500,000. But the corruption did not end with Drivas nor his 13 coconspirators that have been convicted so far.
In addition to paying off Drivas, the facility, Bay Medical Care PC, aka SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and/or SZS Medical Care PLLC, would pay compliant Medicare beneficiaries cash kickbacks.
In order to catch the facility in the act, the government planted recording device in a room of the facility. The room was adorned with a Soviet-style poster that said “Don’t Gossip” and the room itself was marked “PRIVATE”. The government captured evidence of more than $500,000 worth of kickbacks changing hands in the room.
“Patients who have concerns or suspect that a facility may be engaged in a disreputable practice should not hesitate to question what they are observing,” Mr. Paulos continued. “It’s important that physicians be accountable for their actions; if someone has doubts or suspicion, they should contact a qualified attorney immediately.”