California physician sentenced for ultrasound Medicare fraud

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Armond Tennyson Tollete, MD, who pled guilty on Sept. 19, 2007 to conspiring with four owners and operators of ultrasound companies to commit Medicare fraud, was sentenced June 26 to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution to Medicare amounting to $909,000.

Tollete, of Culver City, Calif., previously admitted that he participated in the scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting claims to Medicare while knowing that the ultrasound tests for which he billed were not medically necessary, not legitimately ordered by him, not supervised by any physician, not performed by a certified technician, and in some cases, never performed at all, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Tollette further admitted that he knew Medicare patients had been recruited to the Milpitas Medical Clinic (MMS) by promising them free transportation, food and medical care, along with free Ensure and Chinese ointment or oil. Upon arrival at the MMC, the DoJ said that employees of the clinic copied the beneficiaries’ Medicare cards. Other workers held themselves out as physicians and nurses and conducted a cursory examination of the beneficiaries.

The DoJ also reported that the four owners of the ultrasound companies previously admitted that as part of the scheme to defraud Medicare, they and their employees performed ultrasound tests on the beneficiaries on the premises of MMC without first obtaining a legitimate physician’s order based on medical necessity.

In most cases, neither Tollette nor any other physician actually examined the beneficiaries, despite the fact he certified to Medicare that he had done so, and claimed the tests he ordered were necessary to treat the ailment he had diagnosed, according to the Justice Department.

He was found in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif.