Cal Dent of Lexington found liable for $51 million in health care fraud
Floyd Calhoun “Cal” Dent, III, of Lexington, and two co-conspirators have been found liable for defrauding the federal healthcare programs Medicare and Tricare of over $51 million. The United States Attorney’s Office announced the verdict Thursday.
The verdict was unanimous and it was handed down Wednesday by a federal jury in Charleston. The United States alleged that Dent, along with his co-conspirators, paid illegal kickbacks to physicians across the country in order to get them to order medically unnecessary blood tests from Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc. (“HDL”) of Richmond, VA, and laboratory Singulex, Inc. of Alameda, CA, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act.
“This jury verdict sends a strong message of accountability to those who would seek to take advantage of federal health care programs,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Crick. “The District of South Carolina will continue to battle against Medicare and Tricare fraud.”
Over the course of the two week trial, the United States presented evidence that the defendants Cal Dent, Robert Bradford “Brad” Johnson of Hanceville, AL, and LaTonya “Tonya” Mallory of Richmond, VA, conspired to pay kickbacks to induce physicians to refer patients to HDL and Singulex.
The defendants arranged for “process and handling fees” of $17 to be paid to the physicians per referral and for the routine waiving of patient co-pays and deductibles. As a result of those kickbacks, physicians referred patients’ blood samples to HDL and Singulex for medically unnecessary blood tests. HDL and Singulex then submitted fraudulent claims to federal health care programs Medicare and Tricare for payment for the medically unnecessary tests.
The verdict illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential health care fraud, waste, and abuse can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services at 900-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
The case was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Leventis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina; the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; the FBI; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General; and the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
The civil lawsuit was filed in the District of South Carolina and is captioned United States of America et al v. BlueWave Healthcare Consultants Inc.