3 more indicted in Sacred Heart kickback scheme - KMSP-TV

3 more indicted in Sacred Heart kickback scheme

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Three more Sacred Heart Hospital employees, in addition to five charged earlier this year, have been indicted on federal charges for their involvement in a kickback scheme, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The indictment, returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury, alleges Sacred Heart's owner, executives and administrators conspired between 2004 and 2013 to pay physicians bribes for referrals of Medicare and Medicaid patients, which increased hospital revenue.

The hospital closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy last summer when Medicare payments were suspended after criminal charges were first filed.

Former hospital owner and CEO Edward J. Novak, 58, of Park Ridge, was arrested, along with four doctors when FBI agents and U.S. Department of Health investigators raided the 119-bed hospital and seized evidence on April 16.

Novak and his CFO Roy Payawal, 64, of Burr Ridge, directed doctors Percy May Jr., 75; and Subir Maitra, 74; and Shanin Moshiri, 57, to refer Medicare and Medicaid patients to Sacred Heart, and nursing homes and ambulance services with which the hospital had a "relationship," the indictment alleges.

Those five defendants are free on bond, according to federal prosecutors.

Three new defendants announced Wednesday are Dr. Rajiv Kandala, 41, of Chicago; Sacred Heart's former COO Anthony J. Puorro, 57, formerly of Chicago; and former vice president of geriatric services Noemi Velgara, 64, of Chicago.

Novak, Payawal, Puorro and Velgara are each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal healthcare anti-kickback statute by offering and paying kickbacks and bribes, the statement said. Novak and Payawal were also charged with eight additional counts of paying kickbacks for patients.

May, Maitra, Moshiri and Kandal are each charged with two counts of accepting kickbacks for patient referrals, the statement said.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of illegal proceeds from Novak, Payawal, and the doctors. All eight will appear for arraignment in U.S. District Court at a later date.

Additionally, a fifth Sacred Heart physician was indicted separately for illegally prescribing hydrocodone or lorazepam to four patients without having a valid license and registration to prescribe controlled substances, the statement said. Kenneth S. Nave, 51, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this week.

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