Local doctors caught up in major federal health care fraud crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses a news conference to announce a nation-wide health care fraud and opioid enforcement action at the Justice Department in Washington

Many of them were accused of unlawful prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers.

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against 601 people including doctors for taking part in health care frauds that resulted in over $2 billion in losses and contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic in some cases. The Justice Department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles dispensing opioids and narcotics, the result of investigations spanning 30 state Medicaid programs and numerous enforcement agencies.

Without alleging criminal activity by patients, the report also identified almost a half-million Medicare beneficiaries said to be receiving regular opioid dosages since 2016 that exceed prescribing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of that staggering total, about 125 defendants were charged in South Florida with filing almost $340 million in fraudulent claims for opioid addiction treatment, home healthcare and prescription drugs covered by taxpayer-funded programs and other insurance plans.

The indictment charges Irena Shut, 41, an attorney who lives in Hidden Hills, with paying kickbacks to two podiatrists to authorize prescriptions written on pre-printed prescription pads created to maximize insurance payments, regardless of the medical need for an expensive compounded formulary for each "patient".

The arrests came as part of what the department said was the largest healthcare fraud takedown in United States history.

"These are despicable crimes", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. And the Justice Department says that while most medical professionals are honorable, this group took advantage of the opioid crisis for their own benefit. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Dr. Reddy was also charged with allowing his nurse practitioners to use his DEA number to prescribe controlled substances.

Peresiper, a medical clinic business manager, was charged with conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks related to Pulmonary Solutions and Multi Care Medical NY, both in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Coleman predicted that he'll have "much more to report" in the efforts to uproot health care fraud.

Authorities also highlighted a major healthcare fraud case against a Delray Beach sober home, Halfway There Florida, and a substance abuse treatment facility, Real Life Recovery Delray.

Last year, the DOJ charged more than 400 people for allegedly participating in health care fraud activities totaling approximately $1.3 billion in false billings.

A complaint, information, or indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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