Former doctor pleads guilty to fraud

Saturday, February 25, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A former Kansas City doctor pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to participating in a multimillion dollar fraud scheme to bill Medicare for motorized wheelchairs.

Ambrose Wotorson admitted that he signed paperwork certifying that Medicare beneficiaries were eligible to receive the wheelchairs when he knew they weren't qualified.

Wotorson, 70, and another doctor are accused of participating in the scheme with several medical supply business owners or operators.

Between January 2002 and September 2005, prosecutors said, the participants repeatedly billed Medicare for the most expensive power wheelchair reimbursable -- a $4,000 model. Authorities said that sometimes the patients didn't need the wheelchairs, sometimes they didn't receive them and sometimes they received inexpensive scooters.

instead.

Medicare will pay 80 percent of the cost of motorized wheelchairs and other durable medical devices, but only if a physician certifies that the items are medically necessary. In exchange for providing the false certifications, Wotorson admitted, he received cash payments and kickbacks.

Wotorson, a former osteopathic physician and surgeon, has surrendered his medical license.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, he will forfeit to the government a Kansas City home and the money in two bank accounts.

He also could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $250,000. The sentencing hearing will be scheduled after a presentence investigation is completed.

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