Attorney, Accountant Charged in Orange County Medical Scam

June 30, 2008

An attorney and accountant have been charged with participating in a “rent-a-patient” scam described by authorities as the largest medical insurance fraud case in the nation.

Roy Chester Dickson, 60, of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Andrew Robert Harnen, 54, of Rosemead, Calif., were named in a grand jury indictment unsealed on Friday, June 27, 2008, the Orange County district attorney’s office said. Authorities alleged they participated in a scheme at Unity Outpatient Surgery Center that recruited thousands of healthy people from across the nation to undergo unnecessary surgery in exchange for money or low-cost cosmetic procedures.

Prosecutors said $154 million was fraudulently billed to medical insurance companies. Besides Dickson and Harnen, 17 other defendants have been charged in the case.

“The facts in this case represented greed in its worst form — people gambling with health in the name of cash,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Dickson, who faces 106 felony counts, is accused of using his law practice to launder as much as $3 million through attorney-client trust accounts and creating fraudulent documents to disguise patient recruiting activities. The charges include grand theft, insurance fraud, money laundering and perjury. He faces up to 73 years in prison if convicted of all counts.

Harnen, who faces 118 counts, is accused of helping recruiters and administrators hide their illegal activities by funneling money to corporations he helped set up and filing fraudulent tax returns. The charges against him include making false and fraudulent claims and carry a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison.

Both men were arrested on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. They were each ordered held on $2 million bail during a court appearance, district attorney spokeswoman Susan Schrader said.

Messages left for Harnen’s attorney George Quevedo were not immediately returned. Schroeder did not know whether Dickson has retained an attorney.

The 17 other defendants charged in the case included three doctors, nine recruiters and five administrators at the surgery center. Six have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

The remaining defendants are scheduled to be arraigned July 10, 2008.

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