Good guy reaps what he sows; doctors pay, make woes go away


Don't ask for too much, and maybe you'll get it.

Frank Mahoney, founder of the Nevada Center for Missing Loved Ones, said in my Aug. 8 column that he would like to buy some radios to make it easier for searchers to communicate with one another -- just 10 -- but his nonprofit's shoe-string budget wouldn't cover that.

Three local women read the column and sent him a total of $4,000 to cover those radios, which are useful during searches.

"We have enough to cover the cost of all 10 radios," Mahoney said Wednesday. He's purchased a couple and is testing them to see how they work before he buys the rest.

Mahoney said the women didn't want publicity for their good deeds. But these big-hearted women read of a man who founded a center to help find missing people, a man who didn't ask for millions, just enough to buy 10 radios. And they responded.

Just another overlooked story of kindness, of people trying to help strangers, the kind of story that usually doesn't make the news.

DOC FINED $1,000: Local anesthesiologist and pain management doctor Brian Lemper, who paid $1.25 million to federal officials without admitting wrongdoing in January, actually has admitted to something.

He admitted he failed to report the federal case to the Nevada Board of Osteopathic Medicine as state law requires. For that, he paid an additional $1,000 fine, but that's picayune compared with his federal case.

Lemper was investigated on allegations of Medicare fraud, accused of defrauding the federal government by overcharging federally insured patients by $629,395 between 2004 and 2007, as I wrote in a Jan. 10 column.

The small state fine is fairly routine for failing to report a complaint to state officials. As part of the settlement, no formal complaint was ever filed against him, just an administrative action.

The big benefit for settling the federal complaint without admissions? Check the next item.

TWO DOCS FINED $10,000 EACH: Back in 2009, radiologists William Boren and Luke Cesaretti, owners of West Valley Imaging, paid $2 million to resolve allegations they submitted false claims to Medicare between 1998 and 2003.

That's one of the largest settlements ever negotiated by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, as I wrote Jan. 31.

Last Friday, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners held a hearing over a six-count complaint against the two doctors and upheld two of the counts, deciding they had brought disrepute to the medical profession and kept lousy records.

Boren and Cesaretti were each fined $10,000 by the board. Boren also pays $5,887 for the costs of investigation, and Cesaretti pays $5,224.

The feds get $2 million; the state gets $20,000.

The more serious count of obtaining a license through fraud was dismissed after the doctors' attorney persuaded all but one of the board members that the radiologists believed they had only been audited and not investigated, and audits aren't reportable. Citizen board member Donna Ruthe was the only board member who disagreed that the audit was part of an investigation and should have been reported to the board.

One bonus of settling with the feds without admitting any wrongdoing is that Lemper, Boren and Cesaretti weren't placed on the exclusion list of doctors who won't be paid for treating federally insured patients.

That's the big incentive to pay millions, yet admit nothing, especially when they can all say their cases didn't involve poor patient care, just allegations they cheated the government.

There you have it, one good guy who didn't ask for much and was delighted when three women opened their hearts and wallets, and three doctors who paid millions to make their problems go away and can say, honestly, the federal government didn't prove a thing and their state penalties were minimal.

Of the four men, only Frank Mahoney earned my respect.

Jane Ann Morrison's column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.

 

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