LOS ANGELES – A former Coachella Valley resident whom Israel deported after she and her then-doctor husband fled there to escape criminal prosecution was sentenced today to 97 months in federal prison for her role in a conspiracy in which insurers were fraudulently billed $44 million for unnecessary cosmetic surgeries.
Linda Morrow, 70, formerly of Rancho Mirage, was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who also ordered her to pay $14,025,904 in restitution. At today’s hearing, Judge Staton remarked that Morrow’s “greed knew no bounds.”
Morrow, who has been in federal custody since July 2019, pleaded guilty on February 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of contempt of court.
Morrow’s husband, 77-year-old David M. Morrow, was extradited by Israel in January 2020 and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. David Morrow pleaded guilty in 2016 and was free on bond awaiting sentencing when the couple fled to Israel. Judge Staton imposed the 20-year sentence while the Morrows were living as fugitives, finding that the intended loss from the scheme was more than $44 million. David Morrow was a doctor whose medical license was revoked in January 2018.
Linda Morrow helped her husband run the fraudulent billing scheme out of The Morrow Institute (TMI) in Rancho Mirage and was TMI’s executive director. The Morrows schemed to defraud health insurance companies by submitting bills for procedures performed at TMI that were billed as “medically necessary” – but in fact were cosmetic procedures such as “tummy tucks,” “nose jobs,” breast augmentations, and vaginal rejuvenations.
The victims included Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Cigna Health Insurance. The scheme also defrauded Staples, Inc. and a self-insured group of public entities that included school districts.
“[Linda Morrow] was not simply the ‘doctor’s wife’ to a doctor who happened to commit a crime,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “To the contrary, [she] was an equal partner in their fraudulent scheme, and she participated and ran multiple parts of it.”
In 2017, Linda Morrow fled the United States with her husband to avoid prosecution and failed to appear in court as ordered. In addition to helping move $4 million from domestic bank accounts to accounts in Israel, Morrow used a fraudulent Mexican passport to enter Israel and a fraudulent Guatemalan passport while living there. While living as a fugitive in Israel, Morrow applied for Israeli citizenship using a fraudulent identity.
Israel deported her in 2019.
The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the California Department of Insurance conducted the investigation into the Morrows and TMI. The FBI’s Legal Attachés in Jerusalem, Mexico City, and Guatemala; the Israeli National Police; the United States Marshals Service; the United States Border Patrol’s Northern Border Coordination Center; and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided considerable assistance in tracking down and capturing the Morrows.
Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office prosecuted this case. Assistant United States Attorney Robert I. Lester of the Civil Division’s Financial Litigation Section is enforcing restitution orders in this matter.