Fraud. Photo credit:
Fraud. Photo credit:

Eight medical professionals and associates were charged in federal indictments with buying and selling patients in a bribery scheme involving $25 million in improper claims for medical services and devices which were then billed to California Workers’ Compensation insurance companies, authorities in San Diego announced Tuesday.

FBI agents along with state investigators served five search warrants and three seizure warrants Tuesday at locations in San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Murrieta and Los Angeles.

Authorities arrested five people, including a radiologist, chiropractor, medical equipment provider, medical clinic administrator and a so-called medical marketer.

The defendants, plus six corporations, are charged with conspiracy and honest services mail fraud. The three indictments unsealed today allege that the defendants either paid or received tens of thousands of dollars to buy or sell hundreds of patients, without the patients’ knowledge, therefore depriving them of their right to their doctors’ honest services.

“Today’s indictments are only the first wave of charges in what we believe is rampant corruption on the part of some physicians and chiropractors in their dealings with the health care system in general, and the California Workers’ Compensation system in particular,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

“A patient puts his trust, and his very life, into the hands of his physician,” she said. “A doctor’s decision should never, under any circumstances, be influenced by anything other than the patient’s best interest.”

One of the indictments alleges that Los Angeles radiologist Ronald Grusd paid bribes to a San Diego chiropractor in exchange for patient referrals.

The bribes were allegedly funneled to the chiropractor via Grusd’s corporation, Willows Consulting, a shell company. The checks were labeled “professional services,” but it was a sham, according to court papers.

— City News Service