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.
Hartland Man Arrested After Gun Threats
Police responded to a threat complaint on Lakena Drive in Hartland after man threatened to show up at a daycare with a gun, according to Lt. Jim Lynch of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department.
A 37-year-old Hartland Township man had threatened to show up at his wife’s place of employment with a firearm on Tuesday morning, according to Lynch.
Police did not release the name of the daycare or the location.
When police arrived at the suspect’s residence, they noticed broken glass and shell casings and after making contact with the suspect, police observed him go inside his home. Police say he was the only occupant of the home at that time.
The Livingston County crisis negotiators responded to the scene where after a “brief” amount of time, the suspect was taken into custody and transported to the Livingston County Jail without further incident, according to Lynch.
Police say several surrounding businesses were notified with some of the shutting down for a brief period of time.
“We attempted to contact homeowners to secure them and make them aware of the situation,” Lynch said.
Police say the suspect was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm while intoxicated and the incident remains under investigation with other possible felony charges pending.
No one was injured during the incident. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by Michigan State Police.