Arkansas Doctor Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Federal Prison for Accepting Kickbacks, Defrauding TRICARE, and Failed Attempts to Obstruct Investigation
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, David Shepard, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Agent in Charge CJ Porter of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) announced today that Monday evening Dr. Robert Barrow, 63, of Little Rock, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for conspiring to commit health care fraud, bringing to a close a multi-year federal investigation that began because of an anonymous tip.
At the conclusion Monday’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge J. Leon Holmes, citing the vulnerability of the healthcare system to abusive billing practices by providers and the need to deter other medical professionals, sentenced Dr. Barrow to 24 months’ imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $734,936.52 in total restitution, along with a $100 special assessment.
"Those who defraud the healthcare industry do so at their peril," Thyer said. "Dr. Robert Barrow deceived his patients and their insurers, and now he is going to federal prison. His sentence ought to serve as a warning to anyone tempted to cheat the system. Rooting out those who do not heed this warning will continue to be a focus of the United States Attorney’s Office and its partners at the FBI and HHS-OIG."
Dr. Barrow and his wife, Angela Barrow, owned and operated a Little Rock medical clinic named "Your Doctor’s Office." From 2005 to 2012, he associated with a local massage therapist (Billy Marc Young), to whom Dr. Barrow referred patients and for whom Dr. Barrow billed services under his own provider number, as if they were performing physical therapy. During the scheme "Your Doctor’s Office" became a local insurer’s second-highest biller for physical therapy statewide, ahead of hospitals and dedicated rehab facilities. Although Dr. Barrow purported to supervise Young, he billed for Young’s services at times when Dr. Barrow and his wife were on vacation in places like Las Vegas, Hawaii, and London.
At his change of plea hearing on October 13, 2015, Dr. Barrow admitted that he was "willfully blind" to the illegal nature of his billing practices in relation to Young, that he had abused the trust of his patients and their health insurers, and he had billed millions of dollars for Young’s services.
"As a health care provider, Dr. Barrow chose to commit fraud instead of protecting Medicare and other health care programs," FBI ASAC Shepard said. "Dr. Barrow’s sentencing demonstrates our resolve to bring these actions to justice. We appreciate the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that perpetrators of these fraud schemes are held accountable."
The restitution award included over $32,000 to a group of 40 former patients who bore out-of-pocket expenses for Young’s services believing that they were receiving physical therapy. Dr. Barrow’s single largest victim, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield (ABCBS), was awarded over $680,000 in restitution but agreed to subordinate its claim to those of former patients so that they would receive full compensation before ABCBS is repaid.
Dr. Barrow’s co-conspirator, Young, previously pled guilty in case number 4:14-CR-56 DPM to making false statements in connection with health care and was sentenced in December 2015 to serve one year and one day in federal prison.
This case began because of an anonymous tip to a fraud hotline. Patients are encouraged to be vigilant in the fight against health care fraud. Report any suspicious activity to the FBI (1-800-CALL-FBI), HHS-OIG (1-800-HHS-TIPS), and your insurance provider.
The FBI and HHS-OIG jointly investigated this matter over the course of several years. Assistant United States Attorneys Alex Morgan and Shannon Smith prosecuted the case for the United States.