Lakeland Doctor Sentenced To Prison For Theft Of Disability Benefits
Tampa, FL - U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich sentenced Dr. Srinivas Samak (68, Lakeland) yesterday to 15 months in federal prison for theft of government funds. As part of the sentence, the court also ordered Samak to pay $114,488.90 in restitution. Samak pled guilty to the charge on April 17, 2012.
According to court documents, in November 2003, Samak applied for Social Security Administration (SSA) Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). By completing and signing the DIB application, he agreed to notify the SSA if his medical condition improved allowing him to return to work. He also agreed, via his signature, that it was his responsibility to ensure that the information provided to the SSA, regarding his earnings, was correct.
During the application process and while receiving DIB, Samak periodically completed disability forms that provided the SSA with a status of his health condition and his work activity. Within the forms, he advised that he was hindered by his health condition and no longer able to physically attend to patients at his medical practice, but that he did perform administrative duties and take a few after-hour patient calls for the business.
An investigation by the SSA revealed that, from approximately 2004 through 2009, Samak failed to provide the SSA with an accurate accounting of his work activity. During the aforementioned time period, Samak sporadically treated patients at his medical clinic and frequently covered weekend patient calls for four physicians in the Lakeland area. Two of those physicians paid Samak approximately $500.00 per weekend for the coverage. Based upon the income Samak received, he was not eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Samak purposefully concealed his work activity to receive benefits to which he was not entitled.
“The Social Security Administration, in partnership with the Department of Justice, began a fraud prosecution project more than a decade ago, which focuses on federal benefits fraud. The prosecution project has been a tremendous success and has returned countless dollars to Social Security trust funds. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to investigate all allegations of fraud and abuse and assist the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing violators to justice,” said Guy P. Fallen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda C. Kaiser.