Ex-California doctor convicted in weight-loss insurance scam | Health


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Southern California doctor was convicted Thursday of falsely billing military and private insurers $355 million for weight-loss surgeries.

Julian Omidi, 53, of West Hollywood and his Beverly Hills-based company, Surgery Center Management LLC, were convicted by a federal jury of three dozen counts of wire and mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and making false statements related to health care matters, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

A second physician, Dr. Mirali Zarrabi, 59, of Beverly Hills, was acquitted of all charges, prosecutors said.

Omidi and his relatives controlled the now-defunct 1-800-GET-THIN business that promoted and performed lap-band surgeries, prosecutors said.

Between 2010 and 2016, Omidi convinced insurers to pre-approve the surgeries by having prospective patients undergo sleep studies to determine if they had sleep apnea, a “co-morbidity” that might justify the procedure, prosecutors alleged.

Omidi sometimes had his employees falsify the study results and other information, including the patients’ weights, prosecutors said.

Private insurance companies and Tricare, a health program for members of the military were billed for an estimated $355 million and paid out some $70 million for the lap-band procedures and sleep studies, prosecutors said.


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