Audiologist Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for Medicare Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 14, 2009|
FRESNO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that ADAM JOHN SORTINI, 88, of Merced, was sentenced on December 11, 2009, by United States District Judge Oliver W. Wanger, to six months in prison to be followed by 15 months of home confinement, plus restitution of $100,000, for his scheme to defraud the Medicare program by submitting false billings for audiology services. A jury found him guilty of 17 counts of mail fraud and one count of health care fraud on November 4, 2008.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
According to Assistant United States Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff and Stanley A. Boone, who prosecuted the case, the evidence introduced at trial showed that SORTINI visited skilled nursing facilities throughout Northern California and billed for hearing tests that were not reimbursable by Medicare because they were routine in nature and were performed without a referring physician’s order. He also did not perform all of the tests for which he billed Medicare, and when he was audited by Medicare, he submitted forged physician referrals to justify his Medicare billings. SORTINI billed Medicare for unwarranted and unnecessary hearing tests, including tests for patients with severe mental deterioration including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and senility, and claimed on certain days to have tested between 25 and 50 or more patients at skilled nursing facilities located more than 100 miles apart. He billed and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for these services. This illegal activity continued from January 1998, to January 2003, when the FBI conducted a search warrant at his office in Merced.
At sentencing, Judge Wanger found that SORTINI had obstructed justice by committing perjury at trial, had abused the trust of the Medicare program, and had taken advantage of vulnerable, elderly victims, many of whom were mentally incompetent. The judge took into account SORTINI’s age and medical condition, but determined that a prison sentence was warranted given the nature of the defendant’s fraud.