Ohio cardiologist is sentenced to 20 years for overbilling

Harold Persaud, MD, a cardiologist from Ohio, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for overbilling Medicare and private insurance companies by $29 million between 2006 and 2012. The Department of Justice announced the sentence on Dec. 18.

In September, Persaud was convicted of one count of healthcare fraud, 13 counts of making false statements and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from criminal activity.

Court documents and trial testimony showed that Persaud chose billing codes that were more expensive and different than services he actually performed; performed medically unnecessary nuclear stress tests, cardiac catheterization procedures, stent procedures, aortograms, renal angiograms and other procedures and tests; performed cardiac catheterizations and falsely said he saw lesions during the procedures; recorded false symptoms; inserted stents in patients who did not have 70 percent or more blockage and did not have symptoms of blockage; and improperly referred patients for CABG when it was not needed.

Of the $29 million that Persaud overbilled, Medicare and private insurers paid approximately $5.7 million, according to law enforcement officials.

Persaud had a private practice in Westlake, Ohio and had hospital privileges at Fairview Hospital, St. John’s Medical Center and Southwest General Hospital.