CHICAGO (CN) – A Chicago area surgeon was convicted of lying about numerous abdominal surgeries he performed, including falsifying patient’s medical records and submitting false claims for payment to Medicare.
John Natale, age 63, was a surgeon at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He specialized in repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms, a dilation of the abdominal aorta, usually below the kidneys, which can be life-threatening if it ruptures.
After a weeklong trial, a jury found Natale guilty of making false statements, but acquitted him of health care and mail fraud.
The trial focused on six surgeries he performed in 2003 and 2004. Prosecutors produced evidence that Natale falsified his post-operative reports for at least two patients by describing the surgeries he performed as being more complex than they actually were and writing extensive descriptions of aneurysm repairs that he never performed.
At trial, another surgeon testified that, after one of Natale’s patient’s health deteriorated, he had to untangle the falsehoods in Natale’s reports and that the false statements could have seriously impacted the patient’s treatment.
Natale faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $500,000 total fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet Bhachu and Christopher Niewoehner represented the government on the case.