California physician gets 15 months in prison for $900M kickback scheme

The former owner of Long Beach, Calif.-based Pacific Hospital received a 15-month prison sentence for his role in a kickback scheme that led to more than $900 million in fraudulent bills being submitted, according to Bloomberg Law. 

Faustino Bernadett, MD, paid more than $30 million to physicians, chiropractors or marketers who would then refer patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other medical services.

Dr. Bernadett, who pleaded guilty last August, attempted to conceal the kickback payments using sham contracts. The scheme took place from about 2008 to 2010 and resulted in $900 million in fraudulent bills, primarily to the California work compensation system. 

He was sentenced Jan. 17 by U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton, who also ordered Dr. Bernadett to pay a $60,000 fine. Dr. Bernadett previously was ordered to forfeit $1 million to the government. 

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