Chicago physician gets prison time for role in Sacred Heart kickback scheme

A Chicago podiatrist who was convicted last summer of accepting monthly kickbacks from now-shuttered Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago in exchange for referrals has been sentenced to three months in prison, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In April 2013, federal authorities arrested Sacred Heart's owner and CEO Edward Novak, its former CFO, Roy Payawal, and four physicians, including Shanin Moshiri, DPM, for their alleged participation in a kickback scheme. After the arrests, CMS suspended reimbursements to Sacred Heart, and the hospital closed in July 2013.

In October 2013, Anthony Puorro, who was Mr. Novak's former second-in-command at the hospital, and Noemi Velgara, the hospital's former vice president of geriatric services, were indicted in the case. However, they both cooperated with the federal investigation, including wearing recorders to tape conversations. In December 2014, Mr. Puorro and Ms. Velgara entered into a plea deal with prosecutors.

One of the conversations captured on Mr. Puorro's recorder is of Dr. Moshiri discussing the number of referrals he sent to Sacred Heart and how Mr. Novak was never satisfied with the number of patients he sent to the hospital.

Last March, a federal jury convicted Mr. Novak, Mr. Payawal and Sacred Heart's former COO, Clarence Naglevoort, of conspiring to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks to physicians for referrals to the hospital. In July 2015, Dr. Moshiri was found guilty of one count of accepting a kickback.

Dr. Moshiri was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in prison as well as three months work release, according to the Chicago Tribune. That is a much lighter sentence than what hospital executives who were involved in the scheme received: Mr. Novak received a 4 1/2 year sentence, Mr. Payawal was sentenced to one year in prison and Mr. Naglevoort was given a sentence of nearly two years.  

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

Ex-owner of 3 Calif. medical clinics gets 6 1/2 years for paying kickbacks
San Diego diagnostic lab pays $4M to settle kickback allegations
10 latest healthcare industry lawsuits, settlements


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