Md. Doctor Gets 25 Months in Prison

December 2, 2004

United States Attorney Kenneth Wainstein announced that Dr. Myra Sampler, 56, a local podiatrist, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was sentenced in United States District Court by the Honorable Rosemary Collyer to 25 months in prison and three years of supervised release in connection with Sampler’s plea in a health care fraud case.

Sampler pled guilty in August 2004 to one count of health care fraud in connection with a five-year pattern of submitting fraudulent claims to the District of Columbia’s Medicaid Assistance Administration.

U.S. Attorney Wainstein called “the defendant’s fraud as flagrant as one could imagine. Her conduct was not simply the proclivities of an ordinary thief, but those of someone with fundamental disrespect for the citizens of the District of Columbia and the patients she claimed to treat.” Wainstein stated further that, “the District’s Medicaid’s Assistance Program cannot possibly police the daily activities of every doctor who submits claims. Its staff cannot, as federal agents did in this case, conduct surveillance, execute search warrants, and obtain financial records for each claimant. The program works, by and large, because people are generally honest and because there is punishment for those who cheat.”

According to the government’s evidence, the defendant is a podiatrist, who from 1999 through the Spring of 2003, cultivated a practice that relied almost entirely on servicing Medicaid patients in the District of Columbia. As an approved Medicaid provider, Sampler submitted numerous claims to D.C. Medicaid for patients she claimed to have seen and received from D.C. Medicaid approximately $302,128 in 2002, $521,236 in 2003, and $224,187 between January and April of 2004. Those figures made Sampler one of the top-ranked recipients in the District of Columbia, regardless of specialty, of Medicaid payments in 2003 and in the first four months of 2004.

Sampler, in a reported pattern of deceit that spanned five years, submitted claims for providing services she had not completed and for treating patients she had not even seen. She billed Medicaid more than 100 times for purportedly treating patients who had died before the claimed date of service. She repeatedly billed Medicaid for purportedly seeing patients when she was, in fact, traveling outside of the United States.

Evidence indicated, for instance, that Dr. Sampler billed Medicaid for seeing patients while she was traveling on the Caribbean Island of St. Martin, and while she was traveling in Cancun, Mexico. Indeed, just during 2002 and 2003, she billed Medicaid for having treated well more than 400 patients while she was out of the country.

Sampler also claimed to have seen, but did not actually see, exceedingly large numbers of patients in any given day: for example, Sampler billed Medicaid for having treated 105 D.C. Medicaid recipients on April 7, 2003; 93 D.C. Medicaid recipients on March 30, 2002; 93 D.C. Medicaid recipients on May 29, 2002; 92 D.C. Medicaid recipients on August 31, 2002; and 88 D.C. Medicaid recipients on Sept. 3, 2003. Finally, Sampler billed Medicaid for multiple services that either had not been performed or that she knew were not covered in combination with each other.

Sampler reportedly deposited her ill-gotten gains into several bank accounts, and some of the money she had obtained was seized pursuant to a warrant in April 2004. Overall, Sampler made more than a million dollars from Medicaid between January 2002 and April 2004, and roughly $420,000 of that total was recovered at the time the warrant was executed.

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