Hospital founder to serve 66 months in prison, pay $82.9M over fraud scheme

An anesthesiologist was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to involvement in a $200 million fraud scheme at Dallas-based Forest Park Medical Center, a now-defunct physician-owned hospital for bariatric and spinal patients, according to the Department of Justice.

The anesthesiologist, Richard Ferdinand Toussaint Jr., MD, will serve 66 months in prison concurrent to the 41 months he's already serving for a separate healthcare fraud conviction. In the Forest Park scheme, he was also ordered to pay more than $82.9 million in restitution.

In March 2018, Dr. Toussaint entered a guilty plea in the Forest Park scheme, admitting to one count of conspiracy to pay healthcare bribes and kickbacks and one count of illegal remuneration under the Travel Act.

Dr. Toussaint established Forest Park Medical Center in 2008 alongside co-defendant Wade Neal Barker, MD, a bariatric surgeon who pleaded guilty before trial.

They conspired with the hospital's manager and other colleagues to illegally induce referrals of patients with high-reimbursing, out-of-network private insurance. Forest Park paid surgeons more than $40 million for these referrals with kickbacks that were mostly disguised as consulting fees or marketing payments, Dr. Toussaint said in his guilty plea.

The physician-owned hospital also concealed discounts given to out-of-network patients, writing it off as uncollected bad debt to avoid payer scrutiny.

Dr. Toussaint was one of 18 individuals convicted in connection to the kickback scheme.

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