Local Doctor Charged with Health Care Fraud
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Sreekrishna M. Cheruvu, M.D., 58, of East Amherst, New York, has been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with health care fraud and submitting false statements relating to health care matters. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant treats patients for opioid addiction at his office in Williamsville, New York. Between January 2009 and December 2013, Cheruvu submitted false and fraudulent claims to private insurance companies seeking reimbursement for services allegedly provided. Claims submitted by the defendant included reimbursement for individual counseling sessions when patients were actually seen in a group therapy setting, and reimbursement for services Cheruvu allegedly provided while he was, in fact, out of the country.
For example, some of the defendant’s patients reported that between eight and 15 patients attended the group therapy sessions that were billed as individual counseling sessions. The patients also stated that counselors, not Cheruvu, led the group therapy sessions and that when the defendant did attend a session, he stayed for about 10 minutes at the beginning or end of the session.
In November 2013, a search warrant was executed at the defendant’s Williamsville office. Records seized during the search revealed that on multiple occasions, Cheruvu billed insurance companies for therapy sessions that he did not attend.
According to the complaint, the defendant submitted false and fraudulent claims for payment to HealthNow, Independent Health and Excellus totaling approximately $628,000.
The complaint further alleges that Cheruvu submitted claims for payment totaling $147,000 on dates it was determined that the defendant was outside of the country.
“Perpetuating fraud on the health care industry drives up the cost for everyone, including taxpayers who fund government health care programs and all who contribute directly to their own health care costs,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
The defendant made an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and is being detained.
The criminal complaint was the result of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.