California surgeon cleared in $500M fraud case

A California neurosurgeon was found not guilty Aug. 13 of conspiracy and healthcare fraud more than three years after being indicted in an alleged 15-year fraud scheme that raked in $500 million. 

Serge Obukhoff, MD, was indicted in July 2018 in relation to the federal government's investigation into kickbacks physicians allegedly received for referrals for spinal surgeries performed at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, Calif. He was among dozens of physicians and other medical professionals allegedly involved in the scheme. 

Prosecutors alleged Dr. Obukhoff was paid $2.3 million in kickbacks for directing his patients to Pacific Hospital. Dr. Obukhoff's lawyers argued that he believed the $2.3 million payment was part of an option agreement for a management company to buy his medical practice. 

On Aug. 13, a jury found Dr. Obukhoff not guilty on all 35 counts of conspiracy and healthcare fraud contained in the indictment. The verdict was issued after a three-week trial. 

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