Illinois Tourism & Travel

Crazy About Travel

District of Minnesota | Federal Jury Finds Precision Lens and Owner Paul Ehlen Liable for Paying Kickbacks in Violation of the False Claims Act

District of Minnesota | Federal Jury Finds Precision Lens and Owner Paul Ehlen Liable for Paying Kickbacks in Violation of the False Claims Act

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A federal civil jury has returned a verdict in favor of the United States for far more than $43 million for violations of the Wrong Statements Act and Anti-Kickback Statute. All through the six-week jury demo just before U.S. District Choose Wilhelmina M. Wright, the United States proved that the Defendants the Cameron-Ehlen Team, Inc., which does enterprise as Precision Lens, and its operator Paul Ehlen paid kickbacks to ophthalmic surgeons to induce their use of Defendants’ goods in cataract surgeries reimbursed by Medicare. The jury found that Defendants’ kickbacks induced the submission of 64,575 untrue statements to the Medicare method between 2006-2015.

As established at demo, Precision Lens and Ehlen presented kickbacks to doctors in various types, such as travel and amusement. The United States identified a number of illustrations of excursions, which includes significant-stop snowboarding, fishing, golfing, searching, sporting, and entertainment vacations, often at exclusive locations. For quite a few of the journeys, Precision Lens and Ehlen transported medical professionals to luxury holiday vacation destinations on personal jets. These included trips to New York Metropolis to see a Broadway musical, the University Football Nationwide Championship Match in Miami, Florida, and the Masters golfing tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Precision Lens and Ehlen also marketed frequent flyer miles to their health practitioner shoppers at a sizeable price cut, enabling the doctors to acquire personalized and business visits at well below fair industry benefit.

The United States also proved that Precision Lens preserved a fund, referred to internally at Precision Lens as a key fund or slush fund, in furtherance of its kickback scheme. Precision Lens used income from the key fund to finance multiple medical professional visits.

“The Bogus Promises Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute provide assurance to the United States and Medicare beneficiaries that healthcare choices are produced based mostly on the best interest of the affected person and absolutely nothing else,” mentioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Blumenfield. “The jury’s verdict safeguards the integrity of the Medicare technique for clients and those healthcare providers who operate pretty and lawfully. Providers may possibly not use highly-priced visits and other things of value to persuade doctors to use their goods, and physicians may well not take that remuneration. We thank the jury for its service during this lengthy demo.”

The United States formerly introduced a $12 million settlement of linked allegations with Sightpath Medical, Inc. and TLC Vision Corporation (collectively “Sightpath”) and their previous CEO, James Tiffany. Dr. Jitendra Swarup also settled statements that he had acknowledged kickbacks in a settlement agreement of extra than $2.9 million.

This civil lawsuit was initially introduced by a Relator, or whistleblower, underneath the qui tam provisions of the Wrong Claims Act, which allow personal parties to provide fit on behalf of the federal government for phony claims and to share in any recovery. The authorities typically depends on whistleblowers to deliver fraud techniques to mild that could or else go undetected. The whistleblower in this issue, Kipp Fesenmaier, will acquire a proportion of the quantities awarded at trial.

The scenario was handled by the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, which includes AUSAs Chad Blumenfield, Bahram Samie, and Andy Tweeten and paralegals Darcie Boschee and Laura Kolars. The circumstance was investigated with help from the Office of Inspector Basic of the U.S. Department of Health and fitness and Human Companies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.