State Attorney's Office to file civil action against ophthalmologist Dr. Jitendra Swarup for alleged involvement in kickback scheme

Mary Rechtoris - Print  |

A U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota spokesperson said the office is pursuing a civil action against ophthalmologist Jitendra Swarup, MD, for allegedly engaging in a kickback scheme, according to Virginian-Pilot.

Here are seven things to know:

1. In 2015, a "whistleblower" and former Sightpath Medical executive filed a complaint against Dr. Swarup, a group of 12-plus physicians and four companies for their roles in a kickback scheme. The suit alleges Sightpath provided the physicians entertainment, travel and "sham consultancy agreements" in exchange for the physicians using the company's products and services.

2. The complaint alleges Sightpath made payments of $8,000 per month starting in 2002 to Dr. Swarup for serving as a company consultant. However, the compliant said he abstained from performing "commercially reasonable services for these payments." Sightpath made the payments to Dr. Swarup's practice, Albemarle Eye Center, in Elizabeth City, N.C.

3. The complaint said the payments continued through at least 2008 and Dr. Swarup would receive these payments and induce referrals as a "quid pro quo for arranging for hospital administrations to utilize Sightpath's services and equipment," according to court documents.

4. An attorney representing Dr. Swarup said he was a consultant for the company for nearly 10 years until 2014; Sightpath has contracts with many hospitals where Dr. Swarup operates. The attorney said the bulk of these facilities had contracts with Sightpath prior to Dr. Swarup working at Albemarle Eye Center. The attorney said Dr. Swarup earned nearly $80,000 per year for his consulting work with Sightpath and that Dr. Swarup and the company "honored their contracts."

5. Court documents and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota reveal Sightpath and its former CEO James Tiffany recently reached a $12 million settlement with the government and whistle-blower. The attorney representing Dr. Swarup said officials have not filed criminal charges and are not conducting a criminal investigation into Dr. Swarup. A U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota spokesperson did not comment on whether there is a criminal investigation. However, the spokesperson commented officials have not issued a criminal charge against the physician.

6. Dr. Swarup is also in the process of pursuing a certificate of public need for an ASC in Edinburgh, Va. Dr. Swarup filed the certificated with ophthalmologist Paul Griffey, MD. City of Chesapeake officials have recommended approval of a conditional-use permit. Jan Proctor, the attorney for the city of Chesapeake, Va., said the city is aware of the civil suit and the suit does not contribute to approval of the land-use permit.

7. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota spokesperson said the government will file its civil action complaint against Dr. Swarup by midway through next month.

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