WESTPORT DOCTOR CONVICTED OF HEALTH CARE FRAUD PAYS MORE THAN $421,000 IN RESTITUTION, CIVIL DAMAGES
Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Dr. IGAL STAW, 70, of Stony Brook Road, Westport, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Peter C. Dorsey in New Haven to two years of probation for engaging in health care fraud. STAW pleaded guilty to the offense on December 11, 2007.
According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, STAW owned and operated two medical practices, Respiratory Associates and Health Extenders, located on East Avenue in Norwalk, Connecticut. From June 1, 2004 through June 1, 2006, STAW submitted claims to insurance companies for physical therapy sessions, nutritional counseling sessions, and massage therapy sessions, which were rendered by non-physician providers at his medical practices. In order to obtain reimbursement of these services, STAW falsely represented that these services were physician office visits. STAW has admitted that the scheme caused a loss of $171,225.81 to insurance companies, and he has paid full restitution of that amount.
STAW and Respiratory Associates also have entered into civil settlement agreement with the Government in which Respiratory Associates has paid an additional $250,000 to resolve allegations that STAW and Respiratory Associates violated the False Claims Act. The civil allegations involved claims submitted to Medicare between 2000 and 2006 for physician office visits that were rendered by non-physician providers. The civil allegations also involved claims for physical therapy services provided by exercise physiologists and massage therapists (not by licensed physical therapists), as well as claims for services provided by an individual who had previously been excluded from Medicare and Medicaid.
The False Claims Act provides for treble damages and penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim submitted to the Government.
This investigation was conducted by agents from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the FBI Health Care Fraud Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David J. Sheldon and Richard M. Molot, along with Auditor Kevin Saunders.
Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy encouraged individuals who suspect health care fraud to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS, or the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 785-9270.