Bloomington Pain Management Doctor Indicted For Accepting Kickbacks As Part Of Large Scale Health Care Fraud Scheme
Polukhin used purported charitable trust to receive kickback payments
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the indictment of ELENA LEV POLUKHIN, 58, for writing prescriptions for pain medication as part of a health care fraud conspiracy in which POLUKHIN received kickbacks from Best Aid Pharmacy. POLUKHIN is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, soliciting and receiving kickbacks, health care fraud, aggravated identity theft and distribution of controlled substances. The defendant made an initial appearance today before Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn.
“As charged, this defendant abused her position as a doctor, took kickbacks and participated in a significant fraud of Medicare and Medicaid,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “In addition to funneling kickbacks through a charitable non-profit, Dr. Polukhin wrote unwarranted prescriptions for pain cream and prescribed opioids without any legitimate medical purpose. As Minnesota continues to struggle with our pain pill problem, it is cases like this that so clearly demonstrate the lengths to which some will go to abuse the health care system.”
“Minnesota is not immune to the prescription drug epidemic that continues to plague our nation at an alarming rate,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Moren. “Dr. Elena Polukhin contributed to this epidemic by keeping patients hooked on addictive pain killers and placing an emphasis on generating profits, by fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid, versus fulfilling her obligation to enhance the sound mind and body of her clients.”
"Those who commit health care fraud will be actively pursued by law enforcement. The FBI, along with its partners, will hold health care providers to account if they prey upon those seeking treatment and commit fraud against taxpayers," said Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton.
“Physicians and pharmacists are entrusted to make decisions that are medically necessary and that are in the best interest of their patients, not for their own personal financial gain”, said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge – Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify fraud schemes that jeopardize patient safety and well-being and hold those who execute these schemes accountable.”
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, ELENA POLUKHIN was a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She was a participating provider in Medicare and Medicaid. Most of her patients were Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. POLUKHIN was the sole owner and CEO of Rehabilitation Consultants in Bloomington, Minn. Rehabilitation Consultants specialized in pain management and rehabilitation.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, from at least February 2011 through December 2014, POLUKHIN conspired with others to fraudulently bill Medicare and Medicaid for topical pain-relief creams that she prescribed. The defendant referred virtually every patient prescribed topical pain-relief cream to a single pharmacy, Best Aid, which prepared and dispensed the topical pain-relief creams.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, BORIS LEO RABICHEV, the manager and part-owner of Best Aid who was charged separately by information, and RICHARD WAYNE CUSTER, a pharmacist at Best Aid who was also charged separately by information, compounded pain creams using bulk-powder forms of the various ingredients called for by the prescriptions and dispensed in the pain creams to customers. Best Aid then submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid that falsely represented that the pain creams had been made using tablet, capsule or liquid forms of the various ingredients in the pain creams. By including these false representations, Best Aid generated inflated reimbursements on the pain creams. In exchange for POLUKHIN referring all of the prescriptions for these pain creams to Best Aid, RABICHEV paid POLUKHIN more than $40,000 in kickbacks.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, RABICHEV, at POLUKHIN’s request, made monthly kickback payments to POLUKHIN in the form of checks payable to the Roife-Nissenbaum Trust (RN Trust). The RN Trust was a 501(c)(3) charitable trust founded by POLUKHIN, who also acted as its chair of the board and president. The RN Trust purportedly supported several programs and services, including scholarships to students; a directory of medical providers; fitness programs; humanitarian missions and international collaborations; a mental health and chemical dependency program; medical research; and a “starving artists project.” Between at least June 2012 and March 2014, Best Aid wrote at least 20 checks to the RN Trust for the purpose of paying more than $43,000 of kickbacks to POLUKHIN.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, POLUKHIN also knowingly wrote prescriptions, on at least one occasion, for morphine and oxycodone in the absence of a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of usual professional practice.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of agents, officers and deputies from the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Minneapolis Police Department, Plymouth Police Department, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Army National Guard, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.
The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad has established a hotline if you have information or questions concerning Rehabilitation Consultants and/or Dr. Elena Polukhin – please call 612-344-4189. To provide information online related to Rehabilitation Consultants and/or Dr. Polukhin, please visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov and select the “Report Illicit Pharmaceutical Activities - RX Abuse Reporting Link.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John E. Kokkinen.
ELENA LEV POLUKHIN, 58
- Conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 1 count
- Soliciting and receiving kickbacks, 20 counts
- Health care fraud, 3 counts
- Aggravated identity theft, 3 counts
- Distribution of controlled substances, 2 counts
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.