Taking down major workers-comp medical rings earns Calif. prosecutor national award
1/10/2018Useless, deadly compound creams among $500 million of charged scams
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2018 — Major medical fraud rings are looking over their shoulders at prosecutor Shaddi Kamiabipour, who has stopped more than $500 million of workers-compensation medical scams throughout California in just the last year.
Kamiabipour is pursuing many of California’s largest complex workers-comp medical rings as senior deputy DA for Orange County. Her high impact has earned her the Prosecutor of the Year Award from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
“You’re dealing with people who have a lot to lose. They study insurers and they study the workers-compensation system. You’re dealing with educated professionals who are smart. This makes our job far more complex in the courtroom. We have to educate the jury that a crime was committed,” Kamiabipour said in a presentation at the Coalition’s annual member meeting in Washington, D.C.
Medical scams against workers-comp insurers are a significant crime wave in California. The scams amount to $4 billion a year, state officials say. Doctors, attorneys, chiropractors, testing labs, billing services, pharmacies and others collude to over-bill workers-compensation insurers — often tens of millions of dollars at a time.
Kamiabipour is one of the nation’s pre-eminent prosecutors of these medical crime rings. Her convictions and charges have forced scammers and suspects out of business around the state.
A workers-compensation ring falsely billed insurers more than $70 million this year. The scammers charged for machines that worked as ice packs or heating pads to reduce pain and inflammation. Many employees didn’t even need the machines and had no idea how they worked. Kamiabipour convicted the ringleaders.
A baby died from a suspected scam by another major ring trafficking in criminally toxic compound creams falsely billed to workers compensation insurers, Kamiabipour charges. A mother took a compound cream for her injured knee. She made a bottle for her newborn baby with a tiny amount of the cream still on her hands. The baby died from contact with the toxic medicine, the coroner determined.
Some 22 doctors are defending their medical practices against charges in yet another suspected $40-million ruse involving useless and overpriced compound creams.
Kamiabipour already has convicted a leading doctor in that ring. More suspects stand charged. The alleged ring has hired 30 defense attorneys from large law firms. Kamiabipour is prosecuting with one investigator and a small support staff. Even so, she has assembled 20,000 trial exhibits.
Kamiabipour also supports the anti-fraud community. She speaks at conferences around the state, and nationally. She also advises insurers how to spot the warning signs of a major medical scam.
“You are the neighborhood watch,” Kamiabipour urged fraud fighters at the Coalition’s member meeting. “Call the local DA’s office. Don’t assume we know. Keep the lines of communication open.”
James Quiggle, director of communications
202-393-7331; [email protected]