13 physician kickback suits totaling $332M+ in 2022 

Here are 13 physician kickback suits Becker's reported in 2022 that totaled more than $332 million in either restitution or cost of the fraud scheme:

1. Alexandria, Va.-based orthopedic surgeon Thomas Raley, MD, will pay $3.1 million and has been sentenced to three years in prison for referring drug prescriptions in return for illegal kickback payments. In 2013, Dr. Raley began soliciting pharmacists to pay kickbacks in return for referring expensive compound medications to the pharmacies. 

2. Texas pain physician Jerry May Keepers, MD, was sentenced to three years of probation and up to $1.5 million in restitution for accepting illegal kickbacks from a compounding pharmacy. He admitted he wrote prescriptions for OK Compounding to fill and received $25,000 from the company's representatives in 2014 in exchange for referrals.

3. Orthopedic spine surgeon Steven Valentino, DO, of Haverford, Pa., was convicted of a medication kickback scheme with a Houston pharmacy. Dr. Valentino collected kickbacks for referring, ordering and arranging for prescriptions to be filled by the pharmacy. 

4. Amy Swegan, MD, a general surgeon in Aurora, Ohio, pleaded guilty to accepting $291,000 in kickbacks from telemedicine companies. She will be required to pay $7.2 million in restitution. Dr. Swegan, 47, was paid $30 for alleged consultations she performed for multiple companies from July 2017 to February 2019. 

5. Pain specialist Gerald Sacks, MD, of Santa Monica, Calif. paid $271,259 to settle allegations that he prescribed opioids in exchange for kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Sacks was alleged to have prescribed the opioids Butrans, Hysingla and OxyContin to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for receiving paid speaking and consulting work from Purdue Pharma. 

6. Fifteen Texas physicians will pay a total of $2.83 million to resolve False Claim Act allegations involving kickbacks. The physicians allegedly received remuneration payments from nine management service organizations in exchange for ordering lab tests.

7. A Florida physician, pharmacist and Navy veteran lost the appeal of their conviction in a $4.4 million Tricare fraud scheme. The lower court convictions of Nicole Bramwell, MD, pharmacist Larry Howard and retired Navy veteran Raymond Stone for their involvement in a federal kickback scheme related to prescribing compounded pain creams between April 2014 and May 2015 were affirmed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

8. Hampton, Ga., nurse practitioner Kateline Lavache, RN, was charged for her alleged role in a scheme that defrauded Medicare of $8.8 million. Ms. Lavache, 53, allegedly prescribed medically unnecessary durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs that are used in-home.

9. Former CEO and owner of Sarasota (Fla.) Pain Associates Steven Chun, MD was found guilty of a more than $4.5 million fentanyl kickback and bribery scheme. He prescribed a large volume of the expensive liquid fentanyl spray Subsys. Daniel Tondre, 52, a sales representative for Insys Therapeutics, the drug's manufacturer and distributor, paid Dr. Chun $2,400 to $3,000 for bogus speaking events he organized in exchange for prescribing more Subsys.

10. Alexandria, La.-based physician Robert Clay Smith pleaded guilty March 29 to accepting kickbacks from a medical supply and billing company. He admitted to taking a split of the profits from the Rogers, La.-based company in exchange for prescribing its pain creams and patches to workers compensation patients.

11. Evergreen, Colo.-based physician Jeffrey Kesten, MD, was sentenced March 1 to two years in federal prison for accepting thousands of dollars in kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics. He admitted in a plea agreement he had a quid pro quo relationship with Insys where he accepted kickbacks in exchange for prescribing Subsys, a pain drug made by Insys.

12. Texas physician Jerry May Keepers, MD, pleaded guilty to accepting illegal kickbacks from a compounding pharmacy. He admitted he wrote prescriptions for OK Compounding to fill and received $25,000 from the company's representatives in 2014 in exchange for referrals.

13. Two Laredo, Texas-based physicians were among 10 indicted in a $300 million healthcare fraud scheme. Jose Roel Maldonado, MD, a family medicine physician, and Eduardo Carlos Canova, MD, an internal medicine specialist, are among the providers accused of accepting kickbacks from multiple laboratories in exchange for ordering medically unnecessary lab tests.

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