Austin, Texas physician Dr. Dennis B. Barson Jr., 42, has been sentenced to federal prison for defrauding Medicare of $2.1 million in less than a two month span, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson yesterday.
On Nov. 5, 2014, a federal jury convicted the doctor and his medical clinic administrator, Dario Juarez, 55, of 20 counts of fraud. Their co-defendant Edgar Shakbazyan pleaded guilty on 21 counts on October 27, 2014.
U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced Barson to 120 months in prison, three years of supervised probation after his release. He was ordered to pay restitution of approximately $1.2 million. The Texas Medical Board disciplined Barson in 2011, accusing him of providing false information about a court-ordered drug test for a friend.
Shakbazyan, of Glendale, California, was sentenced to 97 months in prison, while Juarez, of Beeville, received 130 months. Both will also serve three years of supervised release.
The trio were proven to be fraudulently billing and filing false claims with Medicare for rectal sensation tests and electromyogram (EMG) studies of the anal or urethral sphincter which were never performed.
“Barson, Juarez and Shakbazyan were convicted of health care fraud for filing false claims with Medicare for medical procedures which were never performed,” said Magidson. “Shakbazyan was additionally charged, and convicted, of conspiracy to pay kickbacks for payments made to recruiters and beneficiaries.”
“According to the testimony at trial, Barson was the only doctor affiliated with the medical clinic located at 8470 Gulf Freeway in Houston,” Magidson continued. “It was Juarez, however, who represented himself to be a doctor and was the one who actually saw patients, according to the trial testimony.”
Evidence showed Barson, Juarez and Shakbazyan billed Medicare for procedures that did not occur on 429 patients in just two months. The three men also billed Medicare for seeing more than 100 patients on 13 different days, including a high of 156 patients on July 13, 2009.
Barson’s defense struggled to persuade the jury that he was a victim of identity theft and was not the offender of the crimes. The jury did not believe his version of the corruption and found him guilty as charged.
While Barson and Shakbazyan were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future, Juarez remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshal on unrelated criminal charges.
“The criminal charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents of the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office,” Magidson stated. “Assistant U.S. Attorneys Al Balboni and Adrienne Frazior prosecuted the case.”