Former Sacred Heart physician convicted in kickback scheme

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A federal jury has found Venkateswara Kuchipudi, MD, guilty for his involvement in a kickback scheme at the now shuttered Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Kuchipudi was arrested along with other former Sacred Heart physicians and executives in 2013 for their alleged involvement in a multifaceted Medicare fraud scheme. Physicians, including Dr. Kuchipudi, were allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks for referrals to Sacred Heart.

After the arrests, CMS suspended its reimbursements to Sacred Heart, and the hospital closed in July 2013. Authorities subsequently dropped the charges against Dr. Kuchipudi in September 2013. However, six months later, he was indicted by a federal grand jury.

A federal affidavit identified Dr. Kuchipudi as one of Sacred Heart's most prolific sources of patients. Sacred Heart administrators referred to Dr. Kuchipudi as the "king of nursing homes" for the number of elderly patient he referred to the hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Kuchipudi is the 10th defendant convicted for his role in the scheme. The hospital's owner and CEO Edward Novak, its former CFO, Roy Payawal, and its former COO, Clarence Naglevoort, were convicted for their participation in the scheme last March.

Dr. Kuchipudi's sentencing is scheduled for June 2.

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