News and Press Releases

Las Vegas Podiatrist Charged with Health Care Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2004

Las Vegas, Nev. -  A Las Vegas podiatrist was indicted by a federal grand jury today on 86 felony counts of Health Care Fraud, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

NICK T. NGUYEN, D.P.M., age 39, a licensed Nevada podiatrist operating at 3009 West Charleston Boulevard, is alleged to have executed a scheme to defraud the Medicare health care benefit program by billing and seeking reimbursements for ingrown toenail surgeries and other services that were not performed or rendered. The alleged fraud occurred during the period May 15, 1999, to March 25, 2003.

The Indictment alleges that the fraud committed by DR. NGUYEN involved two separate schemes - billing Medicare for ingrown toenail surgeries for patients, when in fact he rendered routine foot care, and billing Medicare for office visits and surgical procedures on the same day, when in fact he had not rendered the two separate services. Medicare regulations do not permit a physician to be reimbursed for rendering routine foot care or for office visits and surgical procedures performed on the same day, unless a significant separately identifiable service above and beyond the usual care associated with the procedure is provided.

The Indictment alleges that DR. NGUYEN listed fraudulent diagnosis codes on Medicare claim forms and falsified progress notes in order to receive the reimbursements from Medicare, and waived co-payments and charged his cash customers significantly lower prices than he billed Medicare in order to conceal the scheme.

"The vast majority of health care providers are honest and committed to providing quality health care at a reasonable cost," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Unfortunately, some health care providers drive up the cost of health care by submitting improper bills for payment. Combating health care fraud is one of the top prosecution priorities of the Department of Justice, and today's Indictment is a strong signal of this District's commitment to the investigation and prosecution of health care fraud in Nevada."

If convicted, DR. NICK T. NGUYEN is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
DR. NGUYEN was summoned to appear in court for an initial appearance and arraignment on Friday May 21, 2004, at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leavitt.

The case is being investigated by Special Agents with the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Crane M. Pomerantz.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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