Gambrills Podiatrist Sentenced to over 4 Years in Prison for Fraudulently Billing Medicare over $1.1 Million
Used the Identity of 200 Nursing Home Patients to Submit False Bills for Podiatry Services that He Never Performed, Despite Having Agreed to Not Bill Medicare Because of Previous Fraudulent Billing Allegations
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Larry Bernhard, age 56, a podiatrist who operated his business from his home in Gambrills, Maryland, today to 54 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for health care fraud and aggravated identity theft related to a scheme to fraudulently bill Medicare for more than $1.1 million. Judge Bredar also entered an order requiring Bernhard to pay restitution of $1,122,992.08.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Health insurance programs trust providers to bill honestly for medical services, so it is essential to punish doctors who betray that trust,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Dr. Larry Bernhard flagrantly ripped off Medicare Advantage by fabricating claims for services that he never provided, collecting more than $1 million in new false claims even after he was caught and prohibited from billing federal health care programs.”
According to his plea agreement, Bernhard has been a licensed podiatrist in Maryland since 1981 and operated a podiatry practice from his home known as Chesapeake Wound Care Center. On October 30, 2007, Bernhard entered into a Settlement Agreement with the government to resolve allegations that from April 1, 2002 through October 11, 2004, he had submitted 80 claims to Medicare for podiatry services purportedly provided at skilled nursing facilities, when in fact the patients were in hospitals. As part of the settlement, Bernhard agreed to be excluded from "Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs" for a period of three years.
Bernhard admits that immediately after signing the Settlement Agreement, and from October 31, 2007 to July 20, 2010, he fraudulently billed Medicare Advantage plans for which he was paid at least $1.1 million. All of the fraudulent billing occurred while Bernhard was excluded from billing all federal health care programs, including Medicare Advantage plans. Of the $1.1 million received by Bernhard, at least $1 million was for services that were not rendered. Bernhard admits that he used the names and personal identifying information of approximately 200 nursing home patients to submit false bills for podiatry care that he never performed.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the HHS-Office of Inspector General and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who prosecuted the case.