latimes.com, by Richard A. Serrano –
October 4, 2012:
Washington — A federal healthcare strike force has charged 91 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals in a nationwide sweep in connection with fraudulently billing the government nearly $430 million. Those charged included a group in Los Angeles that ferried patients for ambulance rides that were never medically necessary.
According to federal law enforcement officials on Thursday, 16 people were charged in Los Angeles, including three doctors and a licensed physical therapist, in schemes that cost $53.8 million. The phony ambulance trips cost the government $49.2 million, and the four people arrested in that operation represent the largest takedown of alleged ambulance fraud since the special Medical Care Strike Force was activated five years ago.
In Chicago, two defendants were arrested. A dermatologist and psychologist were charged with falsely billing the government for millions of dollars for unneeded laser treatments and psychotherapy services.
Other cities where arrests were made or defendants surrendered after federal grand jury indictments were unsealed in the last 24 hours are Miami, Dallas, Houston, Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, La. The indictments alleged more than $230 million in home healthcare fraud, more than $100 million in community healthcare schemes, and the $49 million in ambulance transportation fraud in Los Angeles.
Since May 2007, strike force officials working under the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services have charged more than 1,480 defendants for more than $4.8 billion in healthcare fraud.