Owner of Texas lab company pleads guilty to $73M Medicare fraud scheme

Leonel Palatnik, 42, co-owner of Dallas-based Panda Conservation Group, a medical lab company, pleaded guilty Aug. 31 for his role in a $73 million Medicare kickback conspiracy, according to a Justice Department news release. Mr. Palatnik paid kickbacks to a telehealth company in exchange for orders for medically unnecessary genetic testing. 

The scheme exploited temporary amendments to telehealth restrictions enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic that were intended to ensure access to care for Medicare beneficiaries.

Mr. Palatnik pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to offer kickbacks and one count of paying a kickback. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9 and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

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