Three Indicted in Medical Equipment Kickback Scheme
Pamela Gardner 53, and Torvis Gardner, 44, both of Springfield, Tennessee, and Dr. Donald Boatright, 70, of Nashville, Tenn., were indicted on November 18, 2015, by a federal grand jury on federal health care fraud charges, announced David Rivera, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. The indictment charges the defendants with soliciting and receiving kickbacks, and conspiring to solicit and receive kickbacks, in exchange for making referrals for the purchase of medical equipment.
“Medical professionals and those engaged in the healthcare industries who receive payments from Medicare and TennCare, will continue to be held accountable when they attempt to enrich themselves by committing dishonest and illegal acts which tend to corrupt our healthcare system and place honest providers at a disadvantage,” said U.S. Attorney David Rivera.
According to the indictment, Pamela Gardner was part owner of Medical Necessities, a medical practice located in Springfield, Tennessee. Dr. Donald Boatright was a physician who practiced at Medical Necessities, and Torvis Gardner was an employee of Medical Necessities. The indictment alleges that the three defendants conspired to solicit and accept cash kickbacks in return for referring patients, who were Medicare or TennCare beneficiaries, to a particular medical equipment supplier. The indictment also charged each defendant with multiple counts of receiving cash kickbacks in exchange for medical equipment referrals.
The indictment alleges that the defendants solicited or accepted kickbacks in the following amounts: Pamela Gardner: $17,200; Torvis Gardner: $21,200; and Dr. Donald Boatright: $17,725.
“Health care fraud schemes are complex investigations and require dedicated focus on the details, especially when the facts lead to multiple wrong doers,” said A. Todd McCall, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “These indictments represent the concentrated efforts of the FBI and our partners in TBI, HHS-OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to target those who seek to defraud the government and to fight to protect taxpayer dollars designated to go to those truly in need.”
“When medical professionals sell their integrity, their actions demean the health care industry and expose the serious impact kickbacks can have on the Medicare system,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta.
“Health care fraud and abuse not only cost consumers and taxpayers, it also impacts the quality of health care,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We are fortunate to have a strong relationship with our federal law enforcement partners in continuing to this type of crime in Tennessee.”
Each defendant faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to five years in prison for each count of receiving a kickback.
An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Abely and Thomas J. Jaworski.