Podiatrist Used the Identity of 200 Nursing Home Patients to Submit False Bills

A Gambrills, Maryland podiatrist was sentenced today to 54 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.

A statement issued by the U.S. Attorney for Maryland noted that Larry Bernhard, age 56, was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,122,992.08 for fraudulently billing Medicare.

According to his plea agreement, Bernhard has been a licensed podiatrist in Maryland since 1981 and operated a podiatry practice from his home known as Chesapeake Wound Care Center. On October 30, 2007, Bernhard entered into a Settlement Agreement with the government to resolve allegations that from April 1, 2002 through October 11, 2004, he had submitted 80 claims to Medicare for podiatry services purportedly provided at skilled nursing facilities, when in fact the patients were in hospitals. As part of the settlement, Bernhard agreed to be excluded from “Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs” for a period of three years.

Bernhard admits that immediately after signing the Settlement Agreement, and from October 31, 2007 to July 20, 2010, he fraudulently billed Medicare Advantage plans for which he was paid at least $1.1 million. All of the fraudulent billing occurred while Bernhard was excluded from billing all federal health care programs, including Medicare Advantage plans. Of the $1.1 million received by Bernhard, at least $1 million was for services that were not rendered. Bernhard admitted that he used the names and personal identifying information of approximately 200 nursing home patients to submit false bills for podiatry care that he never performed.

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