Jury Convicts Austin Doctor and Unlicensed Physician’s Assistant of Health Care Fraud
HOUSTON—Dr. Dennis B. Barson Jr., 44, and his medical clinic administrator, Dario Juarez, 54, have been convicted on all counts as charged in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare of $2.1 million in less than two months, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Co-defendant Edgar Shakbazyan entered a guilty plea Oct. 24, 2014. The verdicts were returned just moments ago following seven days of trial.
At trial, prosecutors proved the fraudulent billing was for rectal sensation tests and electromyogram (EMG) studies of the anal or urethral sphincter which were never performed. Barson, of Austin, and Juarez, of Beeville, were also convicted of health care fraud for filing false claims with Medicare for medical procedures which were never performed. Shakbazyan was additionally charged, and convicted, of conspiracy to pay kickbacks for payments made to recruiters and beneficiaries.
According to the testimony at trial, Barson was the only doctor affiliated with the medical clinic located at 8470 Gulf Freeway in Houston. It was Juarez, however, who represented himself either to be a doctor and was the one who actually saw patients, according to the trial testimony. Barson, Juarez and Shakbazyan caused Medicare to be billed for procedures on 429 patients in just two months. Barson, Juarez and Shakbazyan also billed Medicare for seeing more than 100 patients on 13 different days, including a high of 156 patients on July 13, 2009.
Barson’s defense attempted to convince the jury that he was a victim of identity theft and was not the perpetrator of the crimes. They did not believe his story and found him guilty as charged..
Each of the 19 health care fraud counts and the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 possible fine. Barson and Juarez will be sentenced Jan. 30, 2015, while Shakbazyan is set for Feb. 20, 2015.
The criminal charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents of the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Al Balboni and Adrienne Frazior are prosecuted the case.