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Press Release

East St. Louis Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A podiatrist practicing in East St. Louis pled guilty in a U.S. District courtroom on Thursday to committing health care fraud from 2016 to 2020.

Howard Jackson, 69, of Florissant, Missouri, admitted he routinely billed Medicare and Medicaid for procedures he did not perform. 

“Health care providers who commit fraud for financial gain threaten the integrity of our health care system and the basic expectation of competent, available care,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Cutchin. “I appreciate our partnership with the Illinois State Police and the Office of the Inspector General to bring this offender to justice.”

"Providers who submit fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid undermine the integrity of federal health care programs and waste valuable taxpayer dollars," said Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto at the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). "Working closely with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG remains committed to investigating and holding accountable bad actors who defraud programs meant to address the legitimate needs of patients."

“Medical professionals are in a position of trust and when they break that trust by stealing thousands of tax payer dollars for personal gain, ISP will be there to investigate,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly.

Dr. Jackson was a podiatrist with a practice in East St. Louis, Illinois. Between January 2016 and December 2020, he engaged in a health care fraud scheme by submitting claims to Medicare and Medicaid for “nail avulsions” he did not perform. A “nail avulsion” is a surgical procedure that involves the separation and removal of all or part of a toenail from the tip of the nail back to the base of the nail. The procedure typically requires the use of anesthesia to avoid causing extreme discomfort to the patient.

Dr. Jackson admitted in court papers that, on many occasions when he billed for a nail avulsion, he had not used anesthesia and had provided only routine foot care like trimming and clipping nails. Jackson cheated Medicare and Medicaid out of at least $144,694.69 as a result of the fraud.

Jackson’s offenses carry a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. His sentencing is set for July 27, 2023.

The Illinois State Police and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, are conducting the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter T. Reed is prosecuting the case.

Updated April 7, 2023