Crooked Doc Who Scared Patients Gets 4 Years

     LOS ANGELES — A Pasadena doctor who told dozens of patients that they were dying — though they were not — and submitted millions of dollars in claims for hospice care for them, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison.
     Dr. Boayo Huang, 43, also was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution for his role in defrauding Medicare and Medi-Cal.
     “This scheme preyed upon dozens of patients and their families who were led to believe that their worst nightmare had come true: that they had life-ending illnesses,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement.
     “Criminals such as the defendants in this case who steal from taxpayers by defrauding the Medicare system and who victimize vulnerable individuals like medical patients deserve significant prison sentences.”
     Huang was convicted in May of four counts of health-care fraud with California Hospice Care, of Covina, (CHC) which submitted $8.8 million in fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medi-Cal, and received $7.4 million for them, Decker’s office said.
     Huang certified at least 79 patients as terminally ill to qualify them for hospice care, though “the vast majority” were not.
     Also convicted at trial was Dr. Sri Wijegoonaratna, 61, of Anaheim, of seven counts of health care fraud. He will be sentenced on Feb. 13, 2017.
     Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty, including 70-year-old Priscilla Villabroza of Placentia, who bought CHC in 2007 and operated it after she was jailed for another health-care fraud. She pleaded guilty in December 2005 and was sentenced in June to eight years in prison and $7.4 million in restitution, for conduct U.S. District Judge James Otero described as “callous” and “despicable.”
     In 2009, Villabroza was sentenced to 4½ years in federal prison for sending unlicensed and untrained “nurses” to disabled people’s homes and billing Medicare and Medi-Cal for their incompetent services.

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