A former physician convicted of fraudulently submitting practically $120 million in claims associated to the 1-800-GET-THIN Lap-Band surgical procedure enterprise has been sentenced to seven years in federal jail.
Julian Omidi, 58, of West Hollywood was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court docket Choose Dolly M. Gee. The decide additionally imposed a five-year probation interval on Surgical procedure Middle Administration LLC, an Omidi-controlled Beverly Hills-based firm.
Within the coming weeks, Gee is anticipated to carry a separate listening to to determine on restitution and forfeiture within the case, together with setting a high-quality for the Beverly Hills firm.
The 1-800-GET-THIN billboards as soon as dominated the Los Angeles panorama with claims of a one-hour process and a straightforward insurance coverage verification course of. However a federal jury in December 2021 discovered that the enterprise was a prison scheme that bilked tens of millions from a number of insurance coverage suppliers, together with the Tricare healthcare program for navy service members.
“Mr. Omidi made tens of millions on the expense of the a number of sufferer corporations he defrauded, and he violated his oath to ‘do no hurt’ by callously deceptive sufferers in regards to the want for a sleep examine and subsequent weight reduction surgical procedure,” stated Donald Alway, the assistant director accountable for the FBI’s Los Angeles discipline workplace.
In a earlier assertion to The Instances, an lawyer for Omidi stated the costs towards him had been “primarily based on false claims” and “fraught with authorities misconduct.”
Omidi managed a number of entities within the GET-THIN community. Prosecutors say Omidi incentivized staff to make sure sufferers underwent sleep research after which falsified the outcomes to point out that sufferers had obstructive sleep apnea to assist them qualify for insurance coverage protection for the burden loss surgical procedure.
These outcomes had been then filed with insurance coverage corporations to pre-approve the Lap-Band weight-loss surgical procedures. The 1-800-GET-THIN enterprise obtained roughly $41 million for these procedures, in line with prosecutors. Whereas not all sufferers had been accredited to obtain the surgical procedure, prosecutors say GET-THIN would invoice the affected person roughly $15,000 for every sleep examine, totaling $27 million in funds from insurance coverage suppliers.
Omidi and his Beverly Hills-based firm, Surgical procedure Middle Administration, had been discovered responsible of 28 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and one rely of conspiracy to commit cash laundering. Omidi was additionally discovered responsible of two counts of constructing false statements referring to healthcare issues, one rely of aggravated id theft and two counts of cash laundering after a 48-day trial in downtown Los Angeles.
“As discovered by the jury, the defendant Julian Omidi intentionally and repeatedly acted with an eye fixed in direction of enterprise and earnings, moderately than within the curiosity of GET-THIN’s medical sufferers, by inducing sufferers to endure medical therapy premised on fraud moderately than medical necessity, together with surgical procedures that carry vital dangers and life-long well being impacts,” stated U.S. Atty. Martin Estrada.
A collection of Los Angeles Instances columns from 2010 to 2014 detailed how 5 sufferers died after they obtained Lap-Band surgical procedures at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.
Throughout a 2009 inspection, the Division of Well being and Human Companies discovered unsanitary situations, inoperative scrub sinks, one-time-only tools being reused and several other different deficiencies. The inspector shut down the clinic for a day, however additional motion was not taken on the time.
Omidi’s medical license was revoked in 2009, and he was arrested in 2018 together with Dr. Mirali Zarrabi, 59, who has since been acquitted of all fees within the case, in line with prosecutors.
The insurance coverage victims within the case included Anthem Blue Cross, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Well being Web, Working Engineers Well being and Welfare Belief Funds and others, in line with courtroom paperwork. In 2014, federal businesses seized greater than $110 million from the 1-800-GET-THIN community in securities and funds.