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A Beverly Hills radiologist who, along with his companies, paid kickbacks for patient referrals from multiple clinics in San Diego and Imperial counties and fraudulently billed insurance companies more than $22 million was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison.

Dr. Ronald Grusd was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. His companies, California Imaging Network and Willows Consulting Co., were each required to pay a $500,000 fine and an additional $15,600 in special assessments.

In imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant expressed concern that by paying incentives, Dr. Grusd applied pressure on referring physicians, and “made it highly questionable if all services were necessary.”

During trial, Grusd claimed on the witness stand that he was confused and didn’t know what he was doing was illegal.

“Dr. Grusd,” the judge noted, was someone who would “act smart enough to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

Grusd’s practice, California Imaging Network Medical Group, operated clinics throughout California in San Diego, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Fresno, Rialto, Santa Ana, Studio City, Bakersfield, Calexico, East Los Angeles, Lancaster, Victorville and Visalia.

Prosecutors said Grusd negotiated with various individuals, including a primary treating physician, the payment of kickbacks for the referral of workers’ compensation patients for various medical services, including MRIs, ultrasounds, Shockwave treatments, toxicology testing and prescription pain medications.

After the patients were referred for the treatment or service, California Imaging Network Medical Group would fraudulently bill insurance companies for the procedures, concealing from both the patients and the insurers that substantial kickbacks had been paid in violation of California law.

Another of Grusd’s companies, Willows Consulting Co., funneled the kickback payments to those directing the referral of the patients from the various clinics. Records presented at trial showed that Grusd paid more than $100,000 in bribes to secure the billings for hundreds of patients, with bribes paid on a per-patient or per-body-part formula.

— City News Service