Statement from United States Attorney Prim F. Escalona on Fallen Huntsville Police Department Officer Garrett Crumby
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Another individual has been charged in a series of related cases involving multi-million-dollar health care fraud conspiracies, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles.
A federal grand jury yesterday week returned a five-count indictment against John Alan Robson, 40, of Trussville, on charges of health care fraud conspiracy, kickback conspiracy, and kickbacks. According to the indictment, Robson was a sales rep who marketed to doctors’ offices various health care products and services, including prescription drugs from specialty pharmacies, durable medical equipment (DME), and electro-diagnostic testing. Robson was paid fees for the prescriptions, DME, and tests he generated from doctors. From at least 2014 through 2018, Robson allegedly conspired with others to pay and receive kickbacks to induce medical providers to issue medically unnecessary prescriptions and order medically unnecessary goods and services, which were then billed to Medicare and other health insurers.
One of those services was electro-diagnostic testing provided by a Huntsville-based electro-diagnostic testing company called QBR, or Diagnostic Referral Community. Robson received per-patient payments from QBR for inducing medical providers to order tests from QBR. According to the indictment, medical providers received payments from QBR too; the payments were disguised as hourly payments for the ordering physician’s time and staff’s time, but in reality they were per-patient kickbacks.
The case against Robson is related to several other cases that have resulted in convictions in the last year. Dr. Eric Beck, 64, of Huntsville, pleaded guilty last year to health care fraud conspiracy for his role in the QBR scheme. John Hornbuckle, 53, of Huntsville, pleaded guilty to health care fraud and kickback conspiracy offenses for his role, as QBR’s CEO, in orchestrating the fraud. James Ewing Ray, 52, of Gadsden, pleaded guilty to health care fraud and kickback conspiracy for his role as a sales rep who marketed QBR’s scheme to medical practices and received kickbacks per test ordered.
Early last year, a jury convicted Dr. Mark Murphy, 65, and his wife Jennifer Murphy, 66, both of Lewisburg, Tennessee, of drug distribution, fraud, and kickback crimes. The Murphys operated North Alabama Pain Services, which closed its Decatur and Madison offices in early 2017. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the Murphys took kickbacks from QBR of more than a million dollars. In return, Dr. Murphy ordered electro-diagnostic tests from QBR for his patients, regardless of whether there was a medical need for those tests. Dr. Murphy also pre-signed prescriptions for expensive specialty topical creams, sprays, and patches, which patients then received whether they wanted the products or not. Before the Murphys went to trial, a co-defendant, Brian Bowman, 42, of Gadsden, pleaded guilty to health care fraud conspiracy. According to Bowman’s plea agreement, Bowman marketed QBR’s electro-diagnostic testing to medical providers, and was paid a fee for each test they ordered. Bowman received nearly a million dollars in fees from QBR. Bowman also marketed high-reimbursing specialty prescription drugs to the Murphys and other providers and received payments for the prescriptions he generated.
Beck, Hornbuckle, Ray, Mark Murphy, Jennifer Murphy, and Bowman are all awaiting sentencing. Other co-conspirators have already been sentenced.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit health care fraud is ten years in prison; the maximum penalty for conspiracy to receive kickbacks is five years in prison; each kickback count also carries up to ten years.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys J.B. Ward and Don Long are prosecuting it.
An indictment contains only charges. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.