LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Hollywood doctor was charged Tuesday with conspiring to bilk Medicare out of more than $33 million by charging for unnecessary services and medical equipment.
Dr. Robert A. Glazer, 67, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He was arrested May 13 and is free on bond, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Calls to his Hollywood clinic Tuesday were not answered.
Prosecutors contend that from about January 2006 through May 2014, Glazer billed Medicare for tests and procedures that were unnecessary and sometimes weren’t even performed.
Authorities say he also received kickbacks for providing phony prescriptions for hospice services, power wheelchairs and other goods and services to medical companies and suppliers so the bills could be submitted to Medicare.
One woman told investigators that she received several telephone calls asking her to go to the clinic.
“The caller offered her free shoes, oil, rice and beans,” according to an affidavit by an FBI agent that was filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
The woman refused at first, but later, she went. Glazer talked to her for about 10 minutes but didn’t examine her, according to the affidavit.
“A nurse offered her a sonogram, but she refused. The nurse told her she could go home if she agreed to get the sonogram, so she got the sonogram,” the court document stated.
Some patients said they were given powered wheelchairs that they didn’t ask for and didn’t need.
The affidavit said Glazer prescribed more than 1,000 powered wheelchairs during the period, compared with other doctors, even those working with the elderly, who “often prescribe as few as one or two a year,” the affidavit said.
Court documents allege that the phony claims totaled nearly $33.5 million and Medicare paid out about $22 million on them.
The case was brought as part of an ongoing crackdown on fraud that’s believed to cost Medicare between $60 billion and $90 billion each year.
Last year, nearly 100 people around the country, including 14 doctors and nurses, were charged with separate Medicare scams that collectively billed the taxpayer-funded program for roughly $223 million in bogus charges, authorities said.
In 2012, Southern California doctor Juan Tomas Van Putten pleaded guilty to conspiring to cheat Medicare out of more than $11 million by exaggerating patients’ symptoms to obtain wheelchairs and other medical equipment.
Van Putten pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s scheduled to be sentenced March 28.
Federal prosecutors say Van Putten, 66, received cash kickbacks from medical supply companies to write prescriptions for wheelchairs that he knew the patients didn’t need. Van Putten said he knew the companies would use the prescriptions to submit false claims to Medicare.