Crime & astonishment

The blotter has been busy for the last week or so, starting with a cardiologist charged with scheming the murder of a fellow cardiologist and ending with three cardiologists netting almost $6 million in a whistleblower lawsuit.

Fraud and antitrust investigations have become somewhat mundane now. But drugs, guns, arson, murder-for-hire and last but not least, a sliding bookcase that police claimed opened to a room full of weapons, that is most uncommon—especially when the allegations are tied to a practicing cardiologist.

As the humor columnist Dave Barry often feels compelled to write, I am not making this up. Police in New York’s Nassau County arrested cardiologist Anthony J. Moschetto, MD, this month on 10 felony counts after an undercover investigation that initially focused on the sale of prescription medications. The case widened to include an attempted arson of a rival cardiologist’s office followed by a murder-for-hire plot against the same doctor. The tale includes an Uzi and heroin, too.

Police claimed that a search of Moschetto’s home uncovered about 100 weapons stashed in a room in the basement that was concealed by a switch-activated moving bookcase. He remains innocent until proven guilty, and in such a bizarre case, who knows? Anyhow, these are serious crimes, even if it seems like a wild screen play.

The corporate cases are also serious albeit tame by comparison. Practices and hospitals that purchased heart perfusion agents through Cardinal Health might want to check 25 markets listed in a settlement between the company and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC claimed that Cardinal Health built a monopoly for radioisotopes in 25 regions, which led to customers paying inflated prices for low-energy radiopharmaceuticals. The settlement calls for a $26.8 million payment that will be put in a fund and distributed to those customers.

A long-standing dispute between three cardiologists and Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas, also was put to bed this week. In 2012, the three cardiologists won a settlement after alleging the hospital discriminated against them based on their ethnicity. The three doctors are American citizens of Indian descent.

The Department of Justice had picked up on another lawsuit that alleged improper compensation of cardiologists and bonuses for emergency department physicians based on referrals. The hospital settled this week for $21.75 million and under a provision of the False Claims Act the three cardiologists are entitled to $5,981,250.

All in all, cases settled between cardiology-related companies and the federal government in April have totaled almost $110 million. May will be different.

Remember to check our website for coverage of two big events: the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions annual scientific session May 6-9 in San Diego and Heart Rhythm Society’s meeting May 16-19 in Boston.

Candace Stuart

Editor, Cardiovascular Business