A judge sentenced a Fenton podiatrist to 55 months in prison for his participation in a $1.6 million fraudulent medical billing scheme in Bay City Monday.
In addition to his prison term, Richard Alan Behnan, D.P.M., 56, was ordered to pay $1,427,133.12 million in restitution to Medicare, and $196,956.54 to Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Michigan, jointly and severally with his podiatric assistant and co-defendant, Kelly Morel.
"Those who commit health care fraud by illegally billing Medicare for services never performed are stealing money from all taxpayers. The FBI is vigorously committed to stopping these criminal acts," FBI Special Agent Robert Foley said.
Behnan pleaded guilty on November 21, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to
commit health care fraud. According to the plea documents, beginning approximately in 2000 and continuing to at least December 2010, Behnan, a traveling podiatrist who operated across Michigan, including Bay City, Flint, Detroit and Lansing, provided services to patients at various senior centers and assisted living facilities. Behnan and Morel submitted claims to Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for nail avulsion procedures, when in fact they had merely trimmed and polished the patients’ toenails - a form of routine foot care not covered by Medicare.
In some instances, Behnan submitted claims for nail avulsion procedures he claimed to have performed at a time when he was outside of the United States. In total, Behnan billed and received a total of $1,624,089.66 in fraudulent claims.
Behnan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington in Bay City.
Morel, who had pleaded guilty May 26, 2011, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison.
"We hope that cases like this one will alert doctors and other health care providers that defrauding taxpayers through Medicare fraud is a serious crime that will land them in prison," said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. and prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action
Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
*Information provided by the United States Attorney's Office.