Physician Assistant Ordered To Pay $77,900, Excluded From Medicare And Medicaid, And Sentenced To Six Months' Home Detention For Accepting $12,600 In Illegal Kickbacks
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN— U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced that Ronald Mingle, age 73, a physician assistant from Alma, Michigan, was sentenced to pay $62,900 in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid, a $15,000 fine, and to serve six months of home detention for accepting $12,600 in illegal kickbacks for referring patients to medical clinics, physical therapy clinics, and a home health care agency. Mingle is the eleventh person, and the fifth physician assistant, convicted of felony charges in connection with a joint federal-state investigation into a kickback scheme initiated by clinic owner Babubhai Rathod. Mingle will also be mandatorily excluded from participating with the Medicare and Medicaid programs for at least five years.
In sentencing Mingle, U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff stated that accepting kickbacks is "a tremendously serious crime" affecting programs that "successfully meet the needs of low income people for medical services." Judge Neff further noted that when a person "cheats the government, you cheat everyone."
U.S. Attorney Miles emphasized that, "Paying kickbacks for patient referrals distorts the motives of health care professionals. Paying or receiving illegal referral payments can result in felony criminal charges, exponential financial liability, mandatory exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as professional licensing sanctions."
"Paying kickbacks for the referral of Medicare or Medicaid patients is a serious crime," said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. "Kickbacks inappropriately influence health care practitioners’ medical decision making process, lead to overutilization and/or up-coding of services, and further increase program costs. The OIG will continue to aggressively pursue kickback allegations to ensure the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and protect vital taxpayer dollars."
This case was the result of a coordinated effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Raymond E. Beckering III and Adam B. Townshend prosecuted this matter.