Podiatrist Sentenced To 55 Months In Prison In Connection With $1.6 Million Medical Billing Fraud Scheme
FLINT, Michigan – A Fenton podiatrist was sentenced in Bay City yesterday to 55 months in prison for his participation in a $1.6 million fraudulent medical billing scheme.
The sentencing was announced by United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the HHS Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Richard Alan Behnan, D.P.M., 56, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington in Bay City, Michigan. In addition to his prison term, Behnan was ordered to pay $1,427,133.12 million in restitution to Medicare, and $196,956.54 to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, jointly and severally with his podiatric assistant and co-defendant, Kelly Morel.
Behnan pleaded guilty on November 21, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. According to the plea documents, beginning approximately in 2000 and continuing to at least December 2010, Behnan, a traveling podiatrist who operated across Michigan, including Bay City, Flint, Detroit and Lansing, provided services to patients at various senior centers and assisted living facilities. Behnan and Morel submitted claims to Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for nail avulsion procedures, when in fact they had merely trimmed and polished the patients’ toenails - a form of routine foot care not covered by Medicare. In some instances, Behnan submitted claims for nail avulsion procedures he claimed to have performed at a time when he was outside of the United States. In total, Behnan billed and received a total of $1,624,089.66 in fraudulent claims.
Kelly Morel, who had pleaded guilty May 26, 2011, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison.
U.S. Attorney McQuade stated, “"We hope that cases like this one will alert doctors and other health care providers that defrauding taxpayers through Medicare fraud is a serious crime that will land them in prison."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Foley stated, “"Those who commit health care fraud by illegally billing Medicare for services never performed are stealing money from all taxpayers. The FBI is vigorously committed to stopping these criminal acts."
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.