California Navy physician pleads guilty to $2M kickback scheme 

Michael Villarroel, MD, a U.S. Navy physician, pleaded guilty to a scheme where he defrauded the Navy by faking or exaggerating injuries to get reimbursements intended to help service members recovering from traumatic injuries, the U.S. Justice Department said March 28. 

According to the report, Dr. Villarroel acknowledged he knew the claims were fake but signed off for a share of the insurance payments. 

From 2012 to at least December 2015, Dr. Villarroel admitted he conspired to commit wire fraud. He claimed to have reviewed medical records and verified disabilities consistent with the injuries for the claims to be processed, often falsely stating he interviewed the claimant. 

Scheme participants received roughly $2 million from the Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program. Dr. Villarroel received more than $180,000 in kickbacks. 

Villarroel is the 10th defendant to plead guilty to crimes under the scheme.

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