A Dallas doctor was sentenced last week to 48 months in federal prison for his role in a Medicare and Medicaid scam, 25 years after he was put on probation by the state medical licensing board for an incident involving guns and cocaine.
Dr. Daniel Leong was the owner of South Dallas Community Medical Center, where he allowed his signature to be copied by associates to order prescriptions. He has been sentenced to four years in prison for medical fraud, and also must make $865,000 in restitution. In January, Leong pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud involving Medicare and Medicaid.
Investigators said Leong ordered unnecessary tests for patients in the reimbursement scam also involving prescription drugs and additional visits. A physician’s assistant, Cal Graves, used the pre-signed prescriptions and ordered medical tests without having the proper training. Last year, Graves pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and in February was put on probation and ordered to repay nearly $295,000.
According to plea documents filed in the case, from February 2010 to February 2011, Graves and Leong engaged in a scheme to use pre-signed prescriptions containing false representations that Leong examined and diagnosed patients or supervised Graves’ examination or treatment of patients, when, in fact, Leong did none of these things.
In early 2012, Leong signed a blank prescription and instructed Graves and other staff at SDMC to copy and use this pre-signed prescription as needed. Patients had their prescriptions filled at pharmacies, which then submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for reimbursement. However, Medicare and Medicaid would not have paid those claims if they had known that Leong never saw the patient or supervised Graves’ examination and treatment of the patients or that Leong did not prescribe the medications.
The charges were part of a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations that led to charges against 70 defendants for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $263.6 million in false billings to the Medicare program.
“The Dallas Strike Force continues to aggressively root out and prosecute those involved in committing healthcare fraud, which costs taxpayers, patients, and private insurers millions of dollars each year,” said U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, at the time of the indictment. “Healthcare fraud has infiltrated every layer of the healthcare industry, and in this case, as in many, a physician is allegedly at the core of the scheme. Healthcare providers should take heed— these strike forces mean business and are committed to prosecuting those who cheat the system.”
The fraud scam was not the first red flag for Leong. According to his Texas Medical Board profile, he has twice been placed on probation by the Board. In 1988, he was placed on probation for six months and forced to submit to drug and alcohol screenings and psychiatric evaluations after an alleged shooting incident at his home. The Board record indicates that Leong had allegedly taken cocaine prior to the incident.
In 1990, he was placed on probation for 10 years for writing prescriptions to habitual drug abusers. During that 10-year stretch, he was not allowed to prescribe medication to himself or his immediate family. The probation was lifted in 1997, after multiple requests by Leong, records indicate.