Co-owner of California ASC company on trial in $250M fraud case

Julian Omidi, 53, part owner of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Surgery Center Management, faces trial today for his alleged role in a $250 million bariatric surgery fraud case, according to news radio station KFI-AM 640.

The case involves a California lap-band surgery advertising campaign and related sleep study programs between May 2010 and March 2016. The campaign ran frequent ads over television, radio and on billboards for 1-800-Get-Thin. Mr. Omidi told a doctor at one of his centers that clinics he and his brother Michael owned were making $21 million per month in 2010, according to testimony from a wrongful death lawsuit deposition.

At least five patients who had the lap-band surgery at Mr. Omidi's clinics died shortly afterward.

Mr. Omidi required lap-band patients to undergo one or more sleep studies, according to the Justice Department indictment, even those with insurance plans that wouldn't cover the bariatric procedure. Under Mr. Omidi's direction, employees allegedly often falsified the sleep study results to make it appear that patients had moderate or severe sleep apnea. The falsified reports were then used to support preauthorization requests for lap-band surgeries.

Also included in the indictment is Mirali Zarrabi, MD, who prosecutors say allowed his electronic signature to be used to make it seem that he'd reviewed altered sleep studies.

Mr. Omidi and Dr. Zarrabi are charged with multiple federal counts alleging mail and wire fraud, false statements, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

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