A Detroit-area doctor was sentenced to 180 months in prison today for his role in a $26 million health care fraud scheme that involved billing Medicare for nerve block injections that were never provided and efforts to circumvent Medicare’s investigation of the fraudulent scheme. A co-conspirator who owned a medical billing company was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Johnny Trotter M.D., 42, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge George C. Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan. The owner of the medical billing company, Elaine Lovett, 61, of Detroit, was sentenced by Judge Steeh on Sept. 26. Judge Steeh also ordered each defendant to pay $9,199,946 in restitution and scheduled a hearing tomorrow on forfeiture. Trotter and Lovett were convicted in April 2017 after a four-week jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and three counts of health care fraud. Trotter was remanded to custody pending a detention hearing tomorrow.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from May 2008 until May 2014, Trotter and Lovett knowingly submitted fraudulent bills for services that they knew had not been provided, mainly nerve block injections. Additionally, after Medicare imposed a requirement in 2009 that required Trotter’s claims to undergo a medical review prior to payment, Trotter and Lovett conspired to circumvent Medicare’s fraud investigation of Trotter by creating sham medical practices, the evidence showed. To continue to receive payment for services that were not provided, Trotter and Lovett concealed their involvement with these practices from Medicare, and instead recruited their family members and employees to serve as straw owners of the companies, the evidence further showed.
The FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. Fraud Section Assistant Chiefs Malisa Dubal and Allan Medina, as well as Trial Attorneys Tom Tynan and Jacob Foster, prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.