A London cardiologist found guilty in April on federal charges of health care fraud has been sentenced to 42 months (3.5 years) in prison.
Dr. Anis Chalhoub, was found guilty of implanting approximately 234 pacemakers at St. Joseph London hospital between 2007 and 2011 in an effort to defraud Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers.
In addition to the prison sentence, Dr. Chalhoub must pay a $50,000 fine and must also repay $257,515 in restitution to Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers who were victims.
Upon his release from prison, Dr. Chalhoub will be placed on supervised release for three years.
He is court-ordered not to practice cardiology during that time.
According to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Chalhoub’s license is currently active. It is set to expire on Feb. 28.
While they could not comment on a specific case, board officials said if a physician is found guilty of a felony, the board may elect to take disciplinary action.
While Chalhoub may seek to renew the license, officials said the board has the option to deny the application for renewal.
If Chalhoub’s license were to be renewed, he would still require credentials at a hospital.
Doctors seeking credentialing at a hospital must go through a long and extensive credentialing process, which includes an application and background check performed by the Medical Staff Services Office.
“The evidence established that the defendant violated his medical oath and placed greed over patient care,” said United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr. “The defendant performed unnecessary medical procedures and needlessly put lives at risk so that he could submit false claims seeking reimbursement for the unnecessary medical procedures.”
Officials noted that testimony at the trial revealed that Dr. Chalhoub pressed patients into getting the procedures by providing them with misleading information concerning their respective medical conditions.
“For instance, several patients recalled Dr. Chalhoub telling them they might die without a pacemaker,” officials noted explaining that Dr. Chalhoub diagnosed them with sinus node dysfunction.
In reality, sinus node dysfunction is not fatal.
“The jury also heard evidence that Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from Dr. Chalhoub’s unnecessary procedures,” officials stated.
The indictment, returned in June 2016, was the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
In June, two months after his conviction, Chalhoub filed a motion file a motion asking the court to overturn the verdict and to grant him a new trial.
“When the Court views the evidence in this case as the ‘thirteenth juror,’ it becomes clear that no reasonable jury could conclude that Dr. Chalhoub engaged in a knowing and willful scheme to commit ‘fraud,’ to the exclusion of concluding either a good faith disagreement among physicians as to the necessity of the pacemakers or malpractice – neither of which are sufficient to support a criminal conviction,” Chalhoub’s attorney, Guthrie True, stated in the motion.
The motion was denied in a ruling set down on Aug. 1.