A U.S. District judge in South Carolina trebled the False Claims Act liability of three defendants who submitted nearly 39,000 false claims to Medicare and other government health programs.
The CEO of a medical testing lab and two affiliated sales executives have been hit with a civil judgement totaling $114 million for paying kickbacks to physicians for referrals.
The defendants are: Tonya Mallory, the former CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory; and Floyd Calhoun Dent III, and Robert Bradford Johnson, co-owners of Alabama-based BlueWave Healthcare Consultants Inc., a third-party sales firm that contracted with HDL.
- The three defendants were found guilty of civil fraud in three whistleblower suits that were heard by federal jury in Charleston, South Carolina in January.
- The defendants disguised payments to physicians as processing and handling fees of between $10 and $17 for each patient they referred to blood testing labs: HDL, and Singulex Inc., of Alameda, California.
- Physicians referred patients to HDL and Singulex for medically unnecessary tests, which were then billed to federal healthcare programs.
- The three defendants were found liable for submitting 35,074 false claims, worth $16.6 million submitted to Medicare and TRICARE by HDL, and 3,813 false claims, worth $467,935, submitted by Singulex.
- Under the False Claims Act, the court trebled damages, offset settlement payments received from HDL and Singulex for the same claims, and awarded $63.8 million in penalties requested by the United States, for a total judgment of $114.1 million.