The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking more than $17 million in money judgments against the seven defendants convicted in the Forest Park Medical Center bribery trial in April, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Each defendant played a role in the $200 million kickback scheme, designed to induce doctors to steer lucrative patients – particularly those with high-reimbursing, out-of-network private insurance – to the now defunct hospital. The majority of the kickbacks, which totaled more than $40 million, were disguised as consulting fees or “marketing money” doled as a percentage of surgeries each doctor referred to Forest Park.
Hospital manager Alan Beauchamp, who testified for the government, admitted that Forest Park “bought surgeries,” and then “papered it up to make it look good.”
“Patients trust medical professionals to make healthcare based on the patients’ best interests. Instead, these defendants allowed their greed to dictate their recommendations as to how and where patients were treated,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said today.
Prosecutors filed motions for entry of a forfeiture money judgement against six of the seven convicted defendants Tuesday afternoon:
From Wilton McPherson “Mac” Burt, Forest Park’s managing partner, the government is seeking $4,560,852.33. Mr. Burt was found guilty on 10 of 12 counts, including one count of conspiracy, two counts of paying kickbacks, six counts of commercial bribery in violation of the Travel Act, and one count of money laundering, and now faces up to 65 years in federal prison.
From Jackson Jacob, owner of the shell companies through which some of the bribes were routed, the government is seeking $526,102.13. Mr. Jacob was found guilty on four of 14 counts, including conspiracy and three counts of paying kickbacks, and now faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
From Michael Bassem Rimlawi, a spinal surgeon, the government is seeking $8,130,000.00. (A portion of that money would be jointly and severally liable with his partner, Dr. Doug Won.) Dr. Rimlawi was found guilty on three of four counts, including conspiracy and two counts of receiving kickbacks, and now faces up to 15 years in federal prison
From Shawn Mark Henry, a spinal surgeon who invested in FMPC, the government is seeking $840,000.00. Dr. Henry was found guilty on three of three counts, including conspiracy, commercial bribery, and money laundering, and now faces up to 30 years in federal prison.
From Mrugeshkumar Shah, a pain management doctor, the government is seeking $67,850.00. Dr. Shah was found guilty on four of four counts, including conspiracy, two counts of paying kickbacks, and one count of commercial bribery, and now faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
From Iris Kathleen Forrest, a nurse who recruited and preauthorized worker’s comp requests, the government is seeking $463,600.00. Ms. Forrest was convicted on two of two counts, including conspiracy and paying kickbacks, and now faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
Prosecutors had previously filed a motion for entry of a forfeiture money judgement against Dr. Douglas Sung Won, who is currently facing bankruptcy proceedings:
From Dr. Won, a spinal surgeon who partnered with Dr. Rimlawi, the government is seeking $9,122,500.00. (A portion of that money would be jointly and severally liable with Dr. Rimlawi.) Dr. Won was found guilty on one of two counts, conspiracy, and now faces up to 5 years in federal prison.
The government is also seeking $8,255,000.00 from Dr. Wade Neal Barker, one of Forest Park’s founding doctors, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive healthcare bribes and kickbacks as well as aiding and abetting commercial bribery before trial and agreed to testify for the prosecution.
In total, the government is seeking $17,355,904.46 from the defendants convicted at trial, plus an additional $8,255,000.00 from Dr. Barker, for an overall total of $25,610,904.46 to date.
In this case, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture money judgements based on proceeds traceable to the defendants’ crimes of conviction. In addition to any forfeiture ordered by the Court, the Forest Park defendants may be required to pay mandatory restitution to the victim insurance companies – an amount that will likely far exceed the amount sought in the money judgements.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense – Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Tindall is handling the money judgements. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Wirmani, Kate Pfeifle, Marcus Busch, and Gail Hayworth are also prosecuting the case.