The Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced on January 24, 2020 that a dermatologist who became a cosmetic surgeon and oversaw a long-running health care fraud scheme that conned insurance companies into paying tens of millions of dollars for unnecessary cosmetic procedures has been extradited from Israel to serve a 20-year federal prison sentence issued while he was a fugitive.
In September 2017, the 75-year-old cosmetic surgeon was sentenced in absentia to 240 months (20 years) in federal prison for running a scheme that duped health insurance companies into paying tens of millions of dollars for cosmetic procedures with false claims that procedures being performed were medically necessary. When the sentence was issued, the cosmetic surgeon had been on the run for four months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
The cosmetic surgeon’s 67-year-old wife is facing a 31-count grand jury indictment that charges her with participating in the $50 million scheme run through The Morrow Institute (“TMI”) in Rancho Mirage, California. In a separate case, she faces contempt of court charges for fleeing the United States while free on bond in the health care fraud case. Her trial date in the contempt of court case is June 16, 2020.
The husband and wife oversaw a scheme in which TMI submitted millions of dollars in claims for procedures that were certified as “medically necessary” but in fact were cosmetic procedures such as “tummy tucks,” “nose jobs,” and breast augmentations. In some cases, according to court documents, patients underwent procedures they did not want in exchange for promises from the cosmetic surgeon that he would perform the cosmetic procedures that they really wanted. In other cases, he performed procedures on certain patients who had not given informed consent, which “resulted in ongoing medical problems or disfigurement.” Evidence presented during his sentencing hearing also showed that he paid a patient for undergoing surgeries that were billed to insurance.
Before the cosmetic surgeon and his wife fled to Israel, they transferred more than $4 million dollars to Israeli bank accounts using the names of third parties, using fraudulent Mexican passports that had their photos but other persons’ names, to enter Israel. After they entered Israel, they applied for Israeli citizenship using those fraudulent identities. When they were arrested in Israel in 2019, they were no longer using the fraudulent Mexican identities, but were living under different fake identities and were using fraudulent Guatemalan passports. They allegedly used an Israeli attorney and others in Israel in an attempt to launder more than $2 million.
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of cosmetic surgery in the United States, you should promptly find a cosmetic surgery malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your cosmetic surgery malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a cosmetic surgery medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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