News and Press Releases

Fraud Charges Filed Against Las Vegas Spine Surgeon Mark Kabins

March 11, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – Las Vegas orthopaedic spine surgeon, Mark B. Kabins, M.D., has been indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and fraud charges, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Dr. Kabins, 48, is charged with one count of conspiracy and seven counts of mail and honest services fraud. The indictment was returned by the Grand Jury on Wednesday, March 4, 2009, and unsealed this morning.

According to the Indictment, Dr. Kabins and others devised and participated in a scheme to defraud patient Melodie Simon and anesthesiologist Daniel Burkhead, M.D., and to deprive Simon of the right to the honest services of her lawyer. Simon became paralyzed from complications that arose after routine spine surgery performed by Drs. John Thalgott and Kabins on August 3, 2000. The purpose of the scheme to defraud was to prevent Simon from suing Drs. Kabins and Thalgott, and to ensure that she would instead sue Dr. Burkhead, an anesthesiologist who performed a medical procedure on Ms. Simon following her initial surgery. Generally, the Indictment alleges that Dr. Kabins created false and fraudulent medical records; corruptly referred lucrative personal injury cases to Simon's attorney, Noel Gage, to influence him to not sue Drs. Kabins and Thalgott; gave false and misleading testimony during a deposition to deceive others into believing that Dr. Burkhead was solely responsible for Simon's injuries; concealed from Simon and Dr. Burkhead the true nature of the cause of Simon's injuries and the viability of her potential malpractice case against Drs. Kabins and Thalgott; and that he entered into a secret agreement with Gage to testify against Dr. Burkhead and to cooperate to obtain false evidence against him.

The Indictment alleges that the following acts in furtherance of the fraud occurred between September 2001 and October 2004:

September 2001: Dr. Kabins caused Howard Awand, a medical consultant, to refer Simon's medical malpractice case to Gage in order to influence him to not to sue Drs. Kabins and Thalgott. Drs. Kabins and Thalgott then secretly met with Awand and Gage to discuss the Simon case.

December 2001, Dr. Thalgott arranged for another doctor he knew to act as a medical expert in the Simon case.

On January 1, 2002, Awand wrote a letter to Dr. Kabins in which he confirmed a secret agreement between Gage, Awand, and Dr. Kabins, asked Dr. Kabins to have others contact the expert whom Dr. Thalgott had located, and discussed payments from Drs. Kabins and Thalgott to Awand for providing them with malpractice protection.

January 2002: Dr. Kabins caused a false and fraudulent report to be prepared for Gage relating to the medical care and treatment provided to Simon.

May 15, 2002: Dr. Kabins falsely and fraudulently testified in a civil deposition taken in Simon's case against Dr. Burkhead and others.

July 24, 2002: Dr. Kabins caused Gage to file a complaint with the Southern Nevada Medical Dental Screening Panel fraudulently naming Dr. Burkhead as a defendant but not naming Dr. Kabins as a defendant.

June 2003: Dr. Kabins caused Gage to file a complaint in the Eighth Judicial Court, for Clark County, Nevada, fraudulently naming Dr. Burkhead and others as defendants, but not naming Dr. Kabins as a defendant.

June 2004: Dr. Kabins caused Dr. Burkhead and his malpractice insurer to agree to settle the lawsuit.

October 2004, Dr. Kabins caused Dr. Burkhead's malpractice insurer to pay Simon approximately $2,000,000 to settle the suit against Dr. Burkhead.

Dr. Kabins is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge George W. Foley, Jr. at 3:00 p.m. today. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

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

The case is being investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and Nevada Attorney General's Office, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven W. Myhre and Daniel R. Schiess.

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