Sentencing is scheduled for March 12 for a Beverly Hills radiologist and two of his corporations convicted in San Diego federal court of fraud and bribery in connection with a healthcare scam involving California’s workers’ compensation system.
Following a seven-day trial, a jury on Tuesday found Ronald Grusd and his companies, California Imaging Network Medical Group and Willows Consulting Company, guilty on all charges facing them.
According to evidence presented at trial, Grusd and his companies paid kickbacks for patient referrals from clinics in San Diego and Imperial counties in order to fraudulently bill insurance companies more than $25 million for medical services.
California Imaging Network Medical Group operated in San Diego, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Fresno, Rialto, Santa Ana, Studio City, Bakersfield, Calexico, East Los Angeles, Lancaster, Victorville and Visalia.
Grusd negotiated with various people, including a primary-care physician, payment of kickbacks for referral of workers’ compensation patients for various medical services, including MRIs, ultrasounds, shockwave treatments, toxicology testing and prescription pain medications, court documents state.
After patients were referred for a treatment or service, California Imaging Network Medical Group would fraudulently bill insurance companies for the procedures, concealing from both patients and insurers that substantial kickbacks had been paid in violation of California law, according to prosecutors.
Willows Consulting Company, for its part, funneled the kickback payments to those directing the referral of the patients from the various clinics. Records presented at trial showed that Grusd paid over $100,000 in bribes to secure the billings for hundreds of patients, with bribes paid on a per-patient or per-body-part formula.
Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to Grusd’s administrator, Gonzalo Paredes.
Grusd, Paredes and the corporations were originally indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2015, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, working in conjunction with the FBI and the California Department of Insurance, announced multiple arrests arising from “Operation Back Lash,” an ongoing healthcare-fraud investigation targeting corruption and fraud in the California Workers’ Compensation program.
Since then, nearly 40 individuals and corporations have been charged with federal and/or state crimes, including doctors, attorneys, marketers and providers of medical services and devices.
Four other defendants charged with Grusd and Paredes have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the continuing investigation while awaiting sentencing.
“A patient entrusts his life to his physician,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “A doctor’s medical decisions should be based on the best interest of the patient, not the highest bidder.”
Paredes was ordered back to court Jan. 4 for a hearing regarding a retrial.
–City News Service