Toms River, New Jersey Man Admits Posing as a Doctor, Treating Elderly Patients in Medicare Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 11, 2011|
NEWARK, NJ—A Toms River, N.J., man today admitted to unlawfully treating patients, prescribing medicine, and ordering procedures while posing as a licensed physician with an Ocean County, N.J., medical practice, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Patrick Lynch, 54, pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme he orchestrated through Toms River-based Visiting Doctors of New Jersey, in which he conducted hundreds of visits with elderly, home-bound patients and billed them to Medicare. Lynch entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count each of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.
“Patrick Lynch defrauded a government program designed to help Americans most in need of health support,” U.S. Attorney Fishman stated. “To further his deception, he misused the identities of skilled professionals and put elderly patients at risk. Homebound individuals with pressing medical concerns should not have to worry that they are receiving substandard care from untrained hands.”
“The threat to the public well being in this case is considerable,” said Michael B. Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Newark field office. “Without sufficient training and lacking minimal credentials, Patrick Lynch attempted to profit by presenting himself as a licensed medical professional, conducting home healthcare visits with elderly patients, writing prescriptions, and falsely billing Medicare. His actions placed these unsuspecting patients at undeterminable risk.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made during today’s guilty plea proceeding:
Lynch created Visiting Doctors of New Jersey in order to provide medical care for elderly home-bound patients in the Monmouth and Ocean County areas. Because he was neither a licensed physician nor a nurse practitioner, he hired licensed individuals to conduct patient visits. When Lynch failed to pay the licensed physicians and nurse practitioners, they quit working for him. Lynch then carried on the business by posing as the licensed professionals, using their names and government-issued identification numbers to write prescriptions and submit billings to Medicare, among other things.
Over the course of the scheme, hundreds of claims were billed to Medicare for hundreds of illegal visits to elderly patients.
The health care fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; the aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the health care fraud charge. Sentencing is currently scheduled for October 17, 2011. The amount that the defendant will be required to pay in restitution is still being determined and will be decided at sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Red Bank FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General region covering New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom ODonnell; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford; and the Toms River Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael G. Mastronardy, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Marasco of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: Steven Secare Esq., Toms River, N.J.