If the Shoe Fits

Silhouette of lonely elderly man walking with a walker near the window at home

Military service can put a lot of pressure on feet. Overuse can not only cause injuries and inflammation to bones, ligaments and joints, it can also lead to bunions, plantar fasciitis and arthritis. (Oh, my aching feet!) Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is particularly egregious because it highlights a provider of podiatry services in California who committed fraud against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (By the way, thanks to all our servicemembers for putting up with those maladies in order to protect our country.)

The CEO of an orthotics company in Sacramento teamed up with the former chief of podiatry for the VA Northern California Health Care System to conspire to commit fraud between 2008 and 2015. (It helps to have friends in high places I suppose.) A judge last month sentenced the businessman to five years in federal prison for healthcare fraud and wire fraud related to billing the VA for work not performed.

Last year, a jury found the 61-year-old founder and former CEO of Sunrise Shoes and Pedorthic Service Corp. and a co-conspirator, the 69-year-old former VA chief of podiatry, guilty of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. (After that verdict, I bet they are both kicking themselves for carrying out this ridiculous scheme.) The jury found that the two unethical men engaged in a scheme to defraud the VA by billing for custom work and services that were prescribed – but not supplied – in shoes delivered to veterans.

The jury also found that a former employee of the orthotics company – a maker of custom shoes, orthotics and braces – agreed to make false statements to the VA regarding where shoes were made, while applying for an $11 million annual contract. (Imagine the possibilities of having that much money in your bank account. One could buy enough shoes to rival the Imelda Marcos collection.) That employee pleaded guilty in 2016 and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

The podiatrist from Sacramento is scheduled to be sentenced in February. He faces up to a decade in prison and a $250,000 fine for each healthcare fraud count. (If he serves time in prison, it’s a given that he’ll have more than aching feet to worry about.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” comes from the article, “Former CEO sentenced to five years in prison for VA health care fraud,” published Dec. 18, 2019 in the Sacramento Business Journal.

A federal judge in Sacramento sentenced the former CEO of a Sacramento company to five years in prison for health care fraud and wire fraud related to billing Veterans Affairs for work not done.

Peter Wong, 61, founder and former CEO of Sunrise Shoes and Pedorthic Service Corp., was sentenced Tuesday by Judge John Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Previous articleNo Free Rides
Next articleSqueaky Wheels

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.