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California comp division suspends 21 medical providers

California comp division suspends 21 medical providers

Twenty-one more medical providers in California have been suspended, bringing this year’s total to 73 fewer practitioners treating injured workers, the California Division of Workers’ Compensation announced Monday.

According to a state law that now permits regulators to suspend practitioners who have violated state and federal laws or can no longer practice, the division’s director, George Parisotto, issued orders of suspension against the following providers:

• Christopher King of Beverly Hills, California, owner of medical-billing and medical-management companies, and his wife were convicted earlier this year in a $40 million conspiracy to commit medical insurance fraud along with over two dozen doctors, pharmacists and business owners. More than 13,000 patients and 27 insurance companies were victims.

• Marisa Schermbeck Nelson of Torrance, California, pleaded guilty on July 26 in Los Angeles County Superior Court for her involvement in a $150 million billing scheme involving orthopedic surgeon Munir Uwaydah, who billed for surgeries fraudulently performed by an untrained physician’s assistant.

• Marlon Songco of Burbank, California, president of Rehab Dynamics, Inc., pleaded guilty in 2015 to paying illegal kickbacks as part of a Medicare fraud scheme along with co-conspirators Joseff Sales and Danniel Goyena.

• Dolphus Dwayne Pierce II, a chiropractor in Lemoore, California, was found guilty in 2016 of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud for billing insurers for services that were unnecessary, not rendered or double billed.

• Julio Diaz, physician in Santa Barbara and Orange counties, was found guilty in 2015 on 79 counts of writing prescriptions for narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. 

• Edward Balbas, a physician in Rancho Cucamonga, California, pleaded guilty earlier this year in Riverside County Superior Court to two felony counts of insurance fraud for submitting more than 165 fraudulent bills over a three-year period. As part of his plea agreement, Dr. Balbas was required to pay multiple insurers restitution of over $650,000. 

• Randall William Tonelli, a pharmacist in San Mateo, California, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2016 to knowingly offering to sell and trade a prescription drug sample and misbranding drugs for sale with the intent to defraud and mislead. Mr. Tonelli surrendered his pharmacist license later that same year. 

• Candelaria Valdez, a medical services provider in Hemet, California, pleaded guilty in 2016 in Riverside Superior Court to misdemeanor battery relating to abuse of a patient.

• Bennie Johnson, an osteopathic physician in Encinitas, California, had his license revoked by the osteopathic board on March 6. The board determined he had committed repeated acts of gross negligence in his treatment of multiple cancer patients.

• Helen Chang, a physician in San Diego, was disciplined by the Medical Board of California for incompetence and gross negligence in her treatment of a patient. She surrendered her medical certificate in 2015.

• Raffiel Arvon, a former vocational nurse in Norwood of Rosamond, California, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009 to felony possession of child pornography. Mr. Norwood surrendered his medical license in 2016 and was suspended from the Medi-Cal program last April.

• Mark Anderson, a dentist in Woodland, California, was found guilty in 2009 on felony counts of sexual battery.

• Jerry Tabuyo, an operator of a community care facility for the elderly in San Jacinto, California, pleaded guilty in January to operating without a license.

• William Richard Bailey, an osteopathic physician in San Diego, had his medical license revoked following conviction for tax evasion in 2016. He was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison and required to pay over $500,000 in restitution and fines.

• James Francis Murphy, an Encinitas, California, osteopathic physician, was convicted on federal charges of income tax fraud and evasion. He was sentenced to four years in prison beginning in 2015 and ordered to pay $447,528 in restitution. His medical license was revoked in 2016.

• David Anderson, a chiropractor in San Diego, pleaded guilty to mail and income tax fraud in 1997. He was suspended from participation in the Medicare and Medi-Cal programs in 2001.

• Robert Craig Taylor, a former chiropractor in Los Angeles, was convicted in 2007 of misdemeanor burglary and identity theft, felony possession of a controlled substance for sale and grand theft, and of receiving stolen property, identity theft and commercial burglary. His chiropractic license was revoked in 2009.

• Matthew Cole, a Newport Beach, California physician, pleaded guilty in 2015 to federal charges of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery deception and subterfuge. He was barred from participating in the Medi-Cal program following his conviction.

• Joanne Benzor, a physician in Riverside, California, pleaded guilty in 2009 to two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol. Her medical license was revoked between 2012 and June 16, 2017, at which time it was reinstated subject to limitations.

• Virginia Garrett of Sarasota, Florida, a former registered nurse, was convicted in 2008 in Los Angeles Superior Court for reckless driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, with a prior conviction for driving with a blood alcohol content exceeding the legal limit. Her medical license was revoked by the Board of Registered Nursing in 2012.

• Kenneth R. Geiger, a physician in Sonoma, California, surrendered his medical license in 2008 following an evaluation that he suffers from an illness that impairs his ability to safely practice medicine.



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