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Arizona foot doc inflates bills for routine procedures

May 21, 2019, Tucson, AZ — A suspended Tucson podiatrist is headed to prison for two years and must repay nearly $1 million to the federal government for submitting bogus claims to Medicare over an eight-year period.

Loren Scott Wessel, 55, was sentenced in federal court in Tucson last week after pleading guilty in a plea deal to health-care fraud, his second felony conviction in two years.

In the latest case, Wessel hatched “a scheme to defraud Medicare out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” between 2008 and 2016, said a news release Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona.

“As part of his practice, Wessel regularly provided routine podiatry care for patients at assisted living facilities in and around Tucson, but fraudulently billed Medicare for more complex and significantly more expensive services that he had not performed,” the news release said.

Wessel practiced under a business named Ajo Podiatry, which he has since closed, according to federal court documents.

To hide his crimes, Wessel falsified patients’ medical records with entries about “alleged ailments they did not have,” the news release said.

In 2017, Wessel pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court to writing bogus prescriptions for oxycodone and agreed to surrender his federal license to prescribe narcotics. He was sentenced to three years’ probation.

“Investigators believe Dr. Wessel was not providing the oxycodone to others but was writing the prescriptions to feed his own addiction,” said a 2017 news release from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

The Arizona State Board of Podiatry Examiners suspended Wessel’s license to practice for three years in late 2016.


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