Miami Physician Sentenced 2 Years for Medicare Fraud

John Commins, March 29, 2011

A Miami physician has been sentenced to two years in prison for his role in a multimillion dollar Medicare scam involving several home health agencies, the Department of Justice has announced.

Fred Dweck, MD, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term, and ordered – along with his co-conspirators – to pay $22 million in restitution to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, DOJ said in a statement.

Dweck was the physician at Courtesy Medical Group, a Miami medical clinic that was owned by co-defendants, Auturo Fonseca and Yudel Cayro. Dweck pleaded guilty and admitted that he wrote hundreds of prescriptions and signed hundreds of care plans and medical certifications for Medicare beneficiaries to receive unneeded home health services, including twice or three-times daily skilled nursing visits for insulin injections. 

Dweck, an employee of the clinics, admitted that the beneficiaries could care for themselves and did not need the expensive home health services. He also admitted to prescribing unnecessary physical therapy services for many of the same beneficiaries. 

Federal prosecutors said Courtesy Medical Group would solicit and take bribes and kickbacks from patient recruiters and other home health agencies in return for Dweck's signature on bogus prescriptions. The prescriptions would be used by dozens of Miami-area home health agencies to fraudulently bill Medicare for millions of dollars in unnecessary services. 

Dweck admitted that from August 2006 to December 2009 he referred approximately 858 patients through Courtesy Medical Group and other Miami-area clinics for the unnecessary services, resulting in more than $37 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare.  Of that, more than $22 million was paid by the Medicare to the home health agencies. More than $16 million of the bogus billings stemmed from prescriptions issued by Dweck through Courtesy Medical Group, of which nearly $10 million was paid by Medicare.

The case was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine cities have charged more than 1000 defendants who collectively have falsely billed Medicare for more than $2.3 billion, DOJ says.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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