Friday, September 29, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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$50 Million Medical Fraud Is Over

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Two Southern Californians face decades in federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding insurers of more than $50 million for medically unnecessary surgeries.

Theresa Fisher, 45, of Tustin was convicted of five counts of mail fraud and Lindsay Hardgraves, 30, of San Pedro was convicted of two counts of mail fraud after a six-day jury trial.

The submitted "a large number" of fraudulent claims to Anthem, Aetna, the Longshore union's health plans and others, the U.S. Attorney said in a statement.

Hardgraves lured people to a surgery center in Orange by promising them free or discounted cosmetic surgeries if they submitted to "multiple unnecessary procedures" to be billed to their union or PPO health care program, prosecutors said.

Fisher, a "consultant" at the center, scheduled the procedures after coaching them "to fabricate or exaggerate symptoms so that their medical procedures would be covered by their insurance," prosecutors said.

The surgery center was know as Princess Cosmetic Surgery, Vista Surgical Center and/or Empire Surgical Center.

After receiving unnecessary endoscopies, colonoscopies and/or cytoscopies, the "patients" got tummy tucks, breast augmentations, and/or liposuction.

They face up to 20 years for each count at their May 29 sentencings.

A third defendant, Vi Nguyen, 31, of Placentia, who pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud, will be sentenced on July 10.

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