An approximate two-hour drive will take you from the Allegiant Experts headquarters in Windermere, Florida to Belleair Beach. This town on the western side of our state is home to Patrick Wolfe, the 48 year-old operator of Wilmington Island Medical Inc. (WI Medical). Unfortunately for Wolfe, however, he won’t be spending much time at his undoubtedly scenic residence for the foreseeable future. A prison cell is his new digs.
As reported by the Southern District of Georgia branch of the United States Department of Justice last week, Wolfe has been sentenced to two years in prison for a bribery conspiracy that involved Medicare.
Wolfe’s sentencing is part of record-setting telemedicine fraud prosecutions in the district.
According to the DoJ, Wolfe has also been ordered to pay $549,476.17 in restitution. After the completion of his prison term, he must also serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
By pleading guilty to conspiracy, Wolfe admitted to paying kickbacks in return for “leads”. The leads were actually signed orders from physicians and nurse practitioners. He then billed those orders to a Medicare Advantage plan using WI Medical. The Medicare beneficiaries were located throughout the Southern District of Georgia among other places.
Wolfe allegedly scored millions of dollars through his scheme.
Among the lavish expenditures Wolfe made with his fraudulently-obtained money was a luxury Italian vehicle. This was noted by David H. Estes, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “After ripping off taxpayer-provided health care benefits to fuel his own greed, Patrick Wolfe had the audacity to flaunt his ill-gotten gains by fueling up and driving around in a Maserati,” he is quoted as saying in the report, “A stint behind bars will put the brakes on this conspiracy.”
As mentioned, Wolfe’s sentencing is part of record-setting telemedicine fraud prosecutions in the Southern District of Georgia. The investigation is ongoing, notes the DoJ report. “As telemedicine becomes an increasing part of our healthcare system, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, vigilance in ensuring that fraud and kickbacks do not usurp the legitimate practice of medicine by electronic means is more important than ever,” it reads.
Wolfe’s prosecution resulted from a joint investigation of multiple agencies and offices.
The Southern District of Georgia has now charged 31 individuals and companies as part of a nationwide crackdown. The initiative is focused on fraudulent genetic testing and prescribing of orthotic braces and pain creams. So far, the investigation has identified over $1.5 billion in losses to Medicare and Medicaid for defendants charged in the Southern District alone.
Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General had this to say about Wolfe’s sentencing: “This sentence is a warning to those who enrich themselves through fraud scams at the expense of taxpayers. Working closely with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to crack down on such schemes, which waste taxpayer funds designed to care for vulnerable patients.”
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