A Naples physician charged last summer in authorizing fraudulent billing of $2.6 million to Medicare has given up his license to practice in Florida and entered a guilty plea in federal court, records show.
Dr. Omar Saleh, 37, voluntarily relinquished his state medical license in early December to the state Board of Medicine which was finalized Dec. 28, according to state records.
In separate action in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Saleh entered a guilty plea for participating in a scheme where he received kickbacks in exchange for signing doctors' orders for genetic testing that were medically unnecessary and sent to two Texas laboratories.
More:Naples physician among 36 nationwide charged for fraudulently billing $2.6 million to Medicare
He will be sentenced April 20 in U.S. District Court in Miami and remains out on bond, court records show. Sentencing is before U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom.
Saleh is one of 36 defendants across 13 federal jurisdictions facing criminal charges where a total of $1.2 billion was fraudulently billed to Medicare involving telemedicine, cancer genetic testing, and durable equipment schemes. The charges were announced last July after a nationwide coordinated investigation.
Telemedicine schemes account for more than $1 billion of the losses: the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put in place more flexible rules for patients to get telemedicine visits during the COVID-19 pandemic
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In addition, the Justice department said fraud related to cardiovascular genetic testing has become a "burgeoning scheme."
Criminal charges were filed against the executive of a telemedicine company, owners and operators of clinical laboratories, durable medical equipment companies, marketing organizations and medical professionals, according to the Justice Department.
The federal government seized more than $8 million in cash, luxury cars and other goods connected to the fraud scheme
Other defendants are based in South Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, Texas and California.
What are the charges that Saleh faced in the scheme?
Saleh, whose practice was located at 2338 Immokalee Road in North Naples, is the only defendant in Southwest Florida. His involvement in the scheme appears to have been based in Miami.
Beginning sometime in April 2020 while in Miami and elsewhere, he solicited and received kickbacks and bribes in exchange for signing doctors' order for genetic tests that were not medically necessary and sent to two Texas laboratories, according to the federal government.
He was recruited by another defendant, Michael Stein, of Palm Beach, to sign the genetic testing orders for patients referred by Panda Conservation Group, a Texas company. Panda's principal place of business was in Broward County, according to court filings.
In exchange, Stein offered Saleh illegal renumeration in the form of referrals of Panda-recruited patients and the chance to bill Medicare for telemedicine consults with these patients, the documents show.
"While Saleh agreed to order the genetic testing in exchange for the referral of these patients and the opportunity to bill for telemedicine visits that did not actually occur, he was ultimately not able to bill these visits and received no compensation," according to his plea agreement.
Saleh was aware the genetic tests he ordered would be conducted by either of two other Texas companies, Amerihealth Laboratory or MP3 Laboratory, the agreement shows.
Saleh knew the laboratories would submit claims to Medicare, which came to at least $2.6 million although Medicare paid $1.6 million, according to the plea document. It's not clear from the plea document if Saleh was aware of the amount billed to Medicare.
What has happened in the case since the charges?
Shortly after the case was announced last summer, the state Department of Health began an investigation after Saleh was arrested July 15, 2022 and charged felony conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
He signed an agreement Aug. 4, 2022 to voluntary relinquish his Florida medical license.
The state Board of Medicine on Dec. 2 accepted his notice to give up his licenses to practice medicine in the state and he agreed to never reapply to practice in the state.
His practitioner profile with the state health department shows he is licensed in Connecticut and New Hampshire.
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Naples doctor faces sentencing April 20 on felony charge to commit fraud