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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 10, 2018

Unlicensed Dentist Convicted Of Healthcare Fraud, Conspiracy To Commit Healthcare Fraud, And Conspiracy To Violate The Anti-Kickback Statute

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that LUIS OMAR VARGAS, an unlicensed dentist, was convicted last Friday, after a two-week jury trial, for defrauding health insurance companies by billing for false claims, billing for claims performed by him as an unlicensed provider, and for conspiring to pay kickbacks to his patients.  The trial was presided over by United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Luis Omar Vargas defrauded taxpayer-funded health insurance plans and his patients by posing as a dentist licensed to practice, when he was not.  Vargas billed for services he never performed and induced his patients to visit his dental clinic by providing them kickback payments.  Now, for his fraud and abuse of the system, Vargas stands convicted of three crimes and faces a substantial term in prison.” 

According to allegations in the Indictment and evidence introduced at trial:

From in or around 2012 through at least November 2017, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, VARGAS and others conspired and participated in a scheme to defraud insurance providers of more than $2 million.  Vargas and others induced patients to be seen at a dental clinic on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by offering patients a $25 cash kickback.  Once the patients were in the door, VARGAS and his coconspirators charged insurance companies for services that were never performed and for services performed by VARGAS that he was not licensed to perform.

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VARGAS, 46, of Roselle, New Jersey, was convicted of one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  VARGAS will be sentenced on April 5, 2019, by Judge Abrams.

Other members of the conspiracy, including Dr. Mehmet Dikengil, 70, and Anna Jones, 60, previously pled guilty to related offenses.

 Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General in this investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Alexandra N. Rothman, Ryan B. Finkel, and Kristy J. Greenberg are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-432
Updated December 10, 2018