Dr. Harry Persaud was convicted of ordering patients to undergo unnecessary procedures, including open heart surgery, to make more than $5.6 million from Medicare and private insurance companies.
Persaud, of Westlake, Ohio, was found guilty of health care fraud, making false statements relating to health care matters and money laundering in September, but on Dec. 18 he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, Cleveland.com reported.
Though Persaud has not practiced medicine since 2012, he could lose his medical license and faces a hearing to decide on repayment to the insurance companies he scammed, The Guardian reported. Several patients have also sued Persaud.
“This is the worst kind of health care fraud you can have and is the toughest I’ve seen -- and I’ve seen some really bad stuff,” Justin Shammot, supervisory special agent with the FBI’s Cleveland office, told The Guardian.
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“The thing that bothers me most is the trust that the patients put into their relationship, believing that someone like Dr. Persaud is going to provide them with the best medical care they can, and in this case that just did not happen,” he added.
The FBI claims Persaud falsified diagnostic exams to justify the use of catheters, performed unnecessary nuclear stress tests and falsely reported that patients had blockages. Despite the evidence, Persaud remains defiant.
“I made some billing errors, but I did not do anything wrong, medically. I never put in a stent or did a procedure that I did not think was necessary. I am appealing the conviction and sentence,” Persaud told The Guardian after the sentence was handed down.