Feeding and Starving Addictions

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Expensive medicine. Medical insurance. Drug addiction. Money and pills. Drugs.

Addictions to things such as drugs, gambling, gaming, food and shopping can be costly in terms of losing money, family or friends. (As opposed to binge-watching, which tends to waste time but at least it’s entertaining, and you can do it with your family and friends for about $10 a month. I digress…) Today, we take a look at a Tucson, Arizona podiatrist who may have used the extra bucks he made from his Medicare fraud scheme to feed his addiction to oxycodone. (His illegal actions caused him to lose his practice.)

The Tucson podiatrist conducted his Medicare fraud scheme over eight years, stealing nearly $1 million from the government healthcare program. He victimized patients residing at assisted living facilities around the Tucson area by illegally billing Medicare for services and procedures he did not provide. They were also billed as more complex and more expensive than the services he would routinely perform. (He was counting on his victims not looking too closely at the Medicare statements when they arrived in the mail.) The foot doctor covered up his fraudulent tracks by falsifying his patients’ medical records, stating they had ailments that they did not have.

The 55-year-old Tucson podiatrist pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud for illegally billing the Medicare program. He received a prison sentence of two years and must pay restitution of nearly $1 million. (But that’s not all for the man who had a previous felony conviction.)

The podiatrist’s troubles go deeper than the Medicare fraud conviction. In addition to the falsification of medical records and fraudulent billing, he also pleaded guilty to forging prescriptions for narcotics. He purchased over 5,000 oxycodone tablets after forging prescriptions using the name of a local doctor. (Although, investigators believe that the podiatrist wrote the prescriptions to feed his own addiction, not others.) He was sentenced to three years of probation.

As a result of his Medicare fraud conviction and addiction to oxycodone, his podiatry practice is now closed. He also agreed to surrender his license to prescribe narcotics and his license to practice for three years. (Suffice to say, thanks to government, this man’s addiction to fraud and drugs is now starving.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, Suspended Tucson podiatrist gets 2 years in prison for Medicare fraud,” posted on Tucson.com on May 22, 2019.

A suspended Tucson podiatrist is headed to prison for two years and must repay nearly $1 million to the federal government for submitting bogus claims to Medicare over an eight-year period.

Loren Scott Wessel, 55, was sentenced in federal court in Tucson last week after pleading guilty in a plea deal to health-care fraud, his second felony conviction in two years.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.