Home >  News >  December, 2014

Surgeon Accused of Massive Insurance Fraud

Feds cite litany of unnecessary and sham surgeries.

Published: December 1, 2014

When suffering patients of Michigan neurosurgeon Aria O. Sabit, MD, sought second opinions, they were told there was a good reason for their ongoing pain: Dr. Sabit hadn't actually performed the spinal fusions he'd billed for, says the government.

The allegation is part of a 40-page complaint unsealed last week in federal court, alleging that Dr. Sabit fraudulently billed Medicare and numerous private insurers for $32.8 million while performing countless unnecessary surgeries and, at least in some cases, not bothering to install the devices he was billing for. He collected $1.8 million, including $1.2 million from Medicare and Medicaid.

Among the patients listed in the complaint are 4 who were told by other physicians that "no such spinal fusion had been performed and there was no evidence of any screw, or any medical device in the spinal column of the patient," according to FBI special agent Peter Hayes.

Dr. Sabit was arrested last Monday after a months-long investigation by the FBI and Department of Justice. He was being held without bond, pending a hearing scheduled for today. A native of Afghanistan, he was thwarted in an attempt to fly to Dubai in September, shortly after being sued in civil court by the Justice Department. At the time, customs officials found a ruby and a 3.6-carat emerald in his luggage, according to the complaint. If convicted, he faces at least 10 years in prison.

In 2013, Dr. Sabit was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article detailing a scheme in which he performed dozens of surgeries at a California hospital, using implants made by a company he had an ownership stake in. One of those patients died from post-operative complications. He moved to Michigan in 2011 and later surrendered his California medical license.

His lawyer, Mark Kriger, has said that his client will plead not guilty. A call by Outpatient Surgery Magazine to Mr. Kriger was not returned.

Jim Burger


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