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Fake Doctor Admits Real Medicare Scam

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 13, 2011

A Toms River, NJ, man admitted to a federal judge this week that he posed as a physician and illegally treated hundreds of elderly patients and prescribed medicine as part of a Medicare fraud scheme.

Patrick Lynch, 54, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Trenton to one count each of healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme he orchestrated through Toms River-based Visiting Doctors of New Jersey. Federal prosecutors said Lynch conducted hundreds of visits with elderly, home-bound patients and billed them to Medicare.

"Patrick Lynch defrauded a government program designed to help Americans most in need of health support," U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a media release. "To further his deception, he misused the identities of skilled professionals and put elderly patients at risk. Homebound individuals with pressing medical concerns should not have to worry that they are receiving substandard care from untrained hands."

Documents and statements connected with the investigation showed that Lynch created Visiting Doctors of New Jersey to provide care for elderly home-bound patients in the Monmouth and Ocean County areas. He hired licensed physicians and nurses to conduct patient visits but they quit when Lynch failed to pay them. So Lynch then posed as the medical professionals, using their names and government-issued ID numbers to write prescriptions and submit billings to Medicare, the Department of Justice said.

The healthcare fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; the aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the healthcare fraud charge.

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