Pennsylvania physician couple pleads guilty to fraud

A physician couple from Hollidaysburg, Pa., has pleaded guilty for their roles in a fraud scheme. 

John Johnson, MD, 62, conspired with others to defraud health insurance programs by illegally billing them for expensive urine drug tests, according to a March 25 Justice Department news release. 

Among those he conspired with is his business partner Rodney Yentzer, who, at Dr. Johnson's suggestion, acquired pain management practices known as Lighthouse Medical and Pain Medicine of York. In 2016, Dr. Johnson and Mr. Yentzer made a deal to sell Lighthouse Medical's laboratory services to a 25-bed critical access hospital. In exchange, the hospital purchased the exclusive right to bill, according to the release. 

The hospital, located near the Florida-Alabama border, agreed to pay Lighthouse a kickback of $900 per test, according to the report.

The owners of the hospital billed payers a total of approximately $1.4 billion for laboratory testing services that were not medically necessary, according to the release. Lighthouse received $2.3 million in kickbacks over a four-month period, with 85% of this amount going to Dr. Johnson.  

Dr. Johnson's wife, Paula Johnson, MD, 62, conspired with her husband to evade payments to the government that her husband was required to make for a prior criminal conviction, according to the report. Dr. John Johnson was sentenced to an 84-month prison sentence in 2017 for various tax offenses for a separate healthcare fraud case and was ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution. They devised a scheme with Mr. Yentzer to funnel money to them without it being captured for Dr. John Johnson's restitution payments. 

Mr. Yentzer pleaded guilty in 2022 to charges related to the fraud and is awaiting sentencing, according to the release. 

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