An Orange County, California podiatrist who was convicted of fraudulently billing Medicare for more than $800,000 in procedures that were never performed has been sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.
Mark Douglas Little, 44, of Anaheim Hills, was sentenced late Monday by United States District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana. In addition to the prison term, which Little began serving this week when he was remanded into custody, Judge Carter ordered the defendant to pay $675,820 in restitution to Medicare.
Little was convicted in February 2004 by a federal jury in Santa Ana of 26 counts of health care fraud. Little operated Astra Foot and Ankle Center in Orange, and he worked out of numerous other offices and hospitals throughout Orange County.
The evidence presented at trial reportedly showed that Little used the names and Medicare beneficiary numbers belonging to a few of his elderly patients to create and submit bogus claims for services that were never performed. Specifically, Little submitted claims for daily or almost-daily surgical procedures and casting on these same patients for months, sometimes years, at a time.
The investigation into Little began when a Medicare beneficiary reviewed her Medicare statement and noticed that Little had billed Medicare for more than 70 procedures he had never performed. That beneficiary called Medicare’s hotline number to complain.
In its investigation, Medicare noticed the same type of daily or almost-daily billing for Little’s top-ten highest billed patients. When these patients were interviewed, they stated that they only saw Little once every two weeks or once a month, and then they only received toenail clippings.
Among podiatrists in Orange County, Little submitted the largest amount of claims to Medicare, even though he had far fewer patients then the next highest-billing podiatrists. In fact, Little’s 10 highest-billed patients generated approximately $800,000 in Medicare claims and accounted for 90 percent of his total Medicare income.
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