A central Florida ophthalmologist with offices in Windermere and Leesburg, was found guilty of 20 counts of Medicare fraud on September 29th. He faces a maximum of ten years in prison for each count. David Ming Pon, M.D., was convicted of health care fraud this past Tuesday by a Jacksonville federal jury. Following trial, Dr. Pon was turned over to the United States Marshals Service. He will remain in custody as he awaits his sentencing which is currently scheduled for March 14, 2016.
To read my previous blog posts as I followed this story from indictment to conviction, click here.
The Egregious Nature of the Crime.
Among allegations of defrauding Medicare out of millions of dollars, Dr. Pon is also said by the prosecution to have intentionally misdiagnosed and subsequently treated (unnecessarily) hundreds of patients. Dr. Pon provided several patients (most elderly) with phony diagnoses of macular degeneration, an eye disease that gradually progresses to vision loss. He then performed unnecessary laser treatments on his patients and billed Medicare for the services.
While the laser was set on low so as not to have caused any permanent damage per witness testimony, Dr. Pon was also found to have injected some of his patients with dangerous dyes that did have the potential to cause serious side effects.
To read the full press release from the FBI, click here.
Paying Back the Government.
Aside from the criminal charges, the federal government has filed suit against Dr. Pon in an effort to seize his assets as restitution for the Medicare funds he fraudulently acquired. Dr. Pon owns several pieces of property in the central Florida area which are vulnerable to government seizure per federal law.
Section 981, 18 United States Code details property subject to civil forfeiture. More specifically, section 981(a)(2)(A) states:
“For purposes of paragraph (1), the term “proceeds” is defined as follows:
(A) In cases involving illegal goods, illegal services, unlawful activities, and telemarketing and health care fraud schemes, the term “proceeds” means property of any kind obtained directly or indirectly, as the result of the commission of the offense giving rise to forfeiture, and any property traceable thereto, and is not limited to the net gain or profit realized from the offense.”
For more information on civil forfeiture of property, read one of our previous blog posts here.
No Small Matter.
Health care fraud is a big deal resulting in big consequences. If you find yourself facing allegations of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, immediately contact an experienced health attorney to advise you of your rights.
Furthermore, if you suspect Medicare or Medicaid fraud, do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can assist you in reporting the illegal activity.
To read one of my previous blogs on another recent health care fraud scheme, click here.
Tips Regarding Settling Medicare Fraud Cases.
Often it is possible to settle allegations of Medicare fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the Medicare provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. After all, you can’t spend your millions if you’re in prison for life.
The Health Law Firm has been successful in negotiating such deals with the United States Attorneys’ Offices.
Have you ever been a victim or suspect of Medicare fraud? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent retina surgeons and ophthalmologists on many different legal issues.
Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today. Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (ALFs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Stutzman, Rene. “Eye Doctor Convicted of Medicare Fraud.” Local News: Orlando Sentinel. 30 Sept. 2015: B1-B3. Print.
United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida. “Federal Jury Finds Doctor Guilty on 20 Counts of Health Care Fraud.” Jacksonville Division: The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation. Press Release. 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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