Wheelchair scam sentencing

A physician who was involved in a scheme to defraud
Medicare by writing hundreds of fraudulent prescriptions for unnecessary
medical equipment was sentenced in San Diego on Monday to five months in federal
prison and five months in a halfway house.

Irving J. Schwartz, 68, of Yuba City, was also ordered to pay $593,430
in restitution to Medicare and forfeit $55,000 in kickbacks that he received
for his role in the scheme. He pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to pay
and receive health care kickbacks.

The scheme focused on the sale of fraudulent power wheelchair
prescriptions, with the end goal of obtaining reimbursements from Medicare for
equipment that patients didn't need, prosecutors said.

According to the plea agreement, Schwartz and co-conspirator Gloria
Hernandez would travel to El Centro in search of elderly Medicare patients.
Schwartz would then write the patients prescriptions for power wheelchairs —
each time collecting a $300 kickback — even though they did not need the
equipment and could walk without assistance.

Hernandez would then sell the wheelchair prescriptions to a medical
supply company owner, Jose Melendez, charging him $1,000 per fraudulent
prescription, prosecutors said.

Melendez, who was among several owners of medical supply companies to be
prosecuted, would submit the prescriptions to Medicare for reimbursement,
billing up to $5,865 for each power wheelchair, according to the plea

Schwartz admitted writing at least 186 fraudulent power wheelchair
prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for more than $55,000 in
bribes and kickbacks, prosecutors said.

At earlier hearings, Melendez was sentenced to 18 months in custody and
Hernandez to six months of home confinement.

Categories: KUSI