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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 30, 2014

U.S. Attorney Announces Filing Of Civil Complaint Against Local Dermatologist For Violating The Federal False Claims Act

Memphis, TN – Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced today that a civil Complaint has been filed against Defendants Dr. George Woodbury, age 51, and his medical practice, Rheumatology & Dermatology Associates, P.C., located in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Complaint alleges that beginning in January 2008 and continuing until December 2011, Defendants engaged in various schemes to present false or fraudulent claims to Medicare for dermatological procedures. Each of these false or fraudulent claims was made by the Defendants with actual knowledge of the falsity, deliberate ignorance, or reckless disregard that fall within the meaning of the False Claims Act.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Defendants presented a large volume of claims to Medicare for adjacent tissue transfers or grafts that were not supported by documentation or that were medically unnecessary. In a similar scheme, Defendants presented claims for wound repairs that overstated and misrepresented the actual length of the repair. The Defendants also presented claims to Medicare that billed benign excisions as malignant; billed excisions which were not in fact excisions but instead were shavings or biopsy of tissue; and billed for unnecessary office visits. In many instances, Dr. Woodbury’s progress notes for office visits would contain cloned information from a patient’s previous visit.

The lawsuit seeks damages and penalties under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733.The False Claims Act provides the United States with a cause of action against any person who knowingly presents or causes to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval. Damages for liability under the False Claims Act are triple the amount of actual damages suffered by the United States, plus a mandatory civil penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 for each claim. Defendants are also subject to exclusion from participation in federal health care benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

This investigation was conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted for the government by Assistant United States Attorneys Stuart Canale, Larry Laurenzi, and David Brackstone.

The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 19, 2015