A prominent Florida eye doctor tied to a U.S. senator's alleged corruption built much of his fortune by defrauding Medicare and instilling false hopes in some patients, a federal prosecutor told a jury Thursday.Meantime, it was the ABA White Collar Conference at the Fountainbleu this week. About 1000 lawyers running around in suits while the beautiful people there were wondering who these aliens were invading their pool party. Lots of recent former prosecutors, including Willy Ferrer and Matt Axelrod. I previously covered Ferrer's move to H&K. Here's the Axelrod story from the NY Times about his departure:
Salomon Melgen stole millions from Medicare between 2008 and 2013 by falsely diagnosing patients and by performing unnecessary tests and treatments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell said during her opening statement for Melgen's fraud trial. Melgen and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez face a separate trial in the fall in an alleged bribery case.
"This is a case about a doctor who lied to Medicare for money," Bell told the 12-member panel. He lied about his patients' diagnoses, she said. He lied about the tests he ran, she said. He lied about their prognoses, she said. All of it, she said, aimed at making Melgen rich, as many of these falsely diagnosed and treated patients could net him $72,000 each annually.
Medicare paid Melgen, 62, because it "relied on the integrity of the doctor," she said, but the government's investigation found that in many cases he "lied," using that word or a variation about two dozen times during her address.
Matthew Menchel, Melgin's attorney, countered during his opening that the government's case is built upon viewing Melgen's actions as criminal when they were actually aggressive medicine, legitimate differences of opinions between doctors and honest mistakes.***
"They turned a blind eye to evidence they didn't like," he said.
Many charges relate to patients Melgen said had age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of severe vision loss in people 65 and older. Most ARMD patients have the "dry" variety, which is caused by retinal cells breaking down and cannot be treated. Fewer have the "wet" variety, which involves bleeding beneath the retina. It can be treated by injections.
Menchel said other doctors who have looked at Melgen's diagnoses and treatments don't always agree with him, but understand what he was attempting. Other eye doctors sent Melgen their hardest, most desperate patients because they knew of his "cutting edge" treatments that sometimes worked, Menchel said. He said a totally blind person who regains even a flicker of peripheral vision would feel the treatment is worth it.
"Many of Dr. Melgen's patients loved him, not just liked him, because he helped them," Menchel said.
Menchel said Melgen never claimed to test or treat prosthetic eyes, saying those billings were mistakes made by his employees. When those mistakes were pointed out to him, Melgen reimbursed Medicare, Menchel said.
Friday, March 10, 2017
Salomon Melgen trial starts
The AP had a nice story about opening statements:
His boss was fired, and in effect, so was he. Now Matthew S. Axelrod is moving on.