Home Detroit Press Releases 2011 Clarkston Podiatrist Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

Clarkston Podiatrist Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 21, 2011
  • Eastern District of Michigan (313) 226-9100

Dr. Richard Alan Behnan, D.P.M., 55, of Clarkston, Michigan, pleaded guilty to a federal indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Division and Lamont Pugh, III, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.

Behnan was a traveling podiatrist who provided services at various senior centers and assisted living facilities in Bay City, Flint, Detroit, and Lansing, Michigan. Behnan and his co-defendant, Kelly Morel, provided routine foot care to patients consisting primarily of toenail trimming. The two routinely billed these services to health insurance companies, including Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), as a surgical procedure. Specifically, Behnan and Morel trimmed toenails and billed the service as a nail avulsion. A nail avulsion is a surgical procedure used to treat ingrown toenails wherein the nail, or portion of the nail, is removed or torn from the nail bed below.

The investigation revealed that patients never received nail avulsion procedures from Behnan or Morel as they claimed. Further, investigators determined that Behnan and Morel billed Medicare for surgical procedures performed while Behnan traveled outside the United States. As a result of all nail avulsion claims submitted from September 2000 to December 2010, Behnan and Morel received $1,624,089.66 from Medicare and BCBSM.

Previously, on May 26, 2011, following four days of trial, Kelly Morel, 49, of Davison, Michigan, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud along with Behnan and 11 substantive counts of health care fraud.

United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade stated, “Health care providers should be on notice that the federal government is scrutinizing billings and will prosecute fraud aggressively. The public deserves to have our health care dollars spent responsibly.”

Behnan is scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. Behnan faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. U.S. Attorney McQuade congratulated the hard work of the FBI and HHS for its efforts in pursuing this case. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shane N. Waller.