Thursday, November 1, 2007

Physical therapist pleads to fraud scam....more than $700,000.

Physical therapist pleads to fraud scam
His seven-month scheme stole more than $700,000.
By Teresa Stepzinski, The Times-Union

A physical therapist has admitted scheming with his wife, a Wayne County doctor and the doctor's wife to steal more than $700,000 in government health-care reimbursements over a seven-month period.

Scott T. Bowlin, 43, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., pleaded guilty Monday to a federal conspiracy charge during a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. in Savannah.

Bowlin, formerly of Richmond Hill, testified that he conspired with his wife, Kim A. Bowlin, and physician Randy Scott Lentz and Rebecca J. Lentz, both of Jesup, to defraud Medicare and Georgia Medicaid from August 2004 through April 2005.

"What I did was wrong. I knew it was wrong and for that I am truly sorry," Scott Bowlin testified. "I am here because I want to be accountable and responsible for my actions."

Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to a $250,000. No sentencing date has been set.

Scott Bowlin is expected to testify against the Lentzes, who will stand trial beginning Monday before Moore.

In exchange for Bowlin's plea and cooperation, the government will dismiss 105 other health-care fraud charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian McEvoy told the judge.

The government also will dismiss the charges against Kim Bowlin, 40, who participated in the scheme's double-billing. She will be allowed to enter a federal pre-trial diversion program, McEvoy said in court.

Both Bowlins remain free on $10,000 unsecured bail pending sentencing.

Randy Lentz, 40, and Rebecca Lentz, 31, each have pleaded not guilty and remain free without bail. Although Randy Lentz is allowed to continue practicing medicine, he is banned temporarily from seeking Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Both couples were charged in a 106-count federal indictment issued Sept. 15. Scott Bowlin and Randy Lentz each were charged with one count of conspiracy and 105 counts of health-care fraud.

Rebecca Lentz and Kim Bowlin also were charged with conspiracy and many, but not all, of the health-care fraud counts, according to the indictment.

Each count of health-care fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison, and a fine up to a $1 million.

The government also is seeking forfeiture of $265,954 in cash, Lentz's medical office building, his adjacent World Gym of Jesup, the couple's home and property in Tennessee and Alabama.

The indictment resulted from an investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agents that began in July 2005 after a tip to the department's fraud hot line.

During the scheme, the Bowlins operated Total Rehab and Wellness, a physical therapy facility in Richmond Hill, where they also were living. Randy Lentz referred patients to the business for exercise services, court documents showed.

Monday, Scott Bowlin testified that he agreed "from day one" to split the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement equally with the Lentzes.

The fraud scheme included billing for "false, fraudulent and fictitious" physical therapy evaluations and physical therapy services, the indictment states.

Bills were submitted to Medicare or Medicaid for physical therapy services that were not provided and for services not medically necessary. Prescriptions were written for unnecessary physical therapy services.

The government was charged for more services than were performed, according to the indictment.

Morris News Service contributed to this report.

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