Three operators of an Orange County, Calif., clinic pleaded guilty to charges they bilked insurers out of nearly $15 million by operating on healthy people, authorities said.
Scheme mastermind Tam Vu Pham, 41, faces 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to billings relating to more than 5,000 patients who came to the Unity Outpatient Surgery Center in Buena Park, said Susan Schroeder, Orange County’s deputy district attorney. No sentencing date was announced.
Tham’s wife, Huong Thien Ngo, 39, also pleaded guilty, said Schroeder.
Ngo was sentenced to seven years in prison, but the sentence was stayed as long as she serves 87 days in jail and completes five years of probation, Schroeder said.
Ngo’s aunt, Lan Nguyen, 49, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. But her sentenced was stayed while she spends 224 days in jail and completes five years of probation, Schroeder said.
Prosecutors said the fraud generated billings of $96 million and that the operators collected nearly $15 million in 2002-2003.
Five other people accused of recruiting, arranging transportation and coaching patients will have a preliminary hearing Jan. 17.
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