(***) (**) A Mississippi Podiatrist Is Indicted For An Alleged Foot Bath Scheme

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On Oct. A federal grand jury in Oxford, Mississippi returned an indictment that was unsealed today. It charges a Mississippi podiatrist of a scheme to defraud Medicare by prescribing and dispensing unnecessary medication and ordering unnecessary testing in return for kickbacks or bribes.

According to court documents Carey “Craig”, 63, from Water Valley, owned and operated North Mississippi Foot Specialists P.C. as well as an in house pharmacy. According to the indictment, Williams prescribed antifungal and antibiotic drugs that were mixed with warm water to soak patients’ feet. These drug cocktails included creams and capsules that weren’t medically necessary to dissolve in water. They were also chosen based on the expected reimbursement amount, rather than medical necessity. Indictment claims that Williams ordered unnecessary molecular diagnostic testing on patients’ toenails, including testing for bacteria that causes “cat scratch” disease. This is not something that can be found in a human toenail. The indictment also alleges that Williams received cash kickbacks from an advertiser in return for referring foot bath medication prescriptions to pharmacists and labs, as well as biological specimens and testing orders. Between July 2016 to July 2021, Williams is alleged to have caused pharmacies to submit fraudulent and false claims to Medicare totaling over $4.9million for prescribing foot bath medication that was not medically necessary. Between January 2018 to April 2021, Williams allegedly caused a diagnostic lab to submit fraudulent and false claims to Medicare for molecular diagnostic testing that was not medically necessary.

Williams is charged with one count each of conspiracy and health care fraud and wirefraud; seven counts for health care fraud; one count each of conspiracy and defrauding the United States and pay, solicit and receive kickbacks; as well as two counts of soliciting or receiving kickbacks. Before U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders of U.S. District Court, the Northern District of Mississippi, Williams made his first court appearance. If convicted, Williams faces a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud; 10 years of imprisonment per health care fraud count; five years of imprisonment for the kickback conspiracy count; and five years of imprisonment per count of soliciting and receiving kickbacks. After considering all relevant U.S. factors, a federal district court judge will decide the sentence. The Sentencencing Guidelines and other statutory elements.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. attorney Clay Joyner for Northern District of Mississippi and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHSOIG) made the announcement. Jay Greenberg, Acting Assistant Director of FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, also made the announcement.

HHS-OIG and FBI are currently investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Sara E. Porter, Justin M. Woodard and Clayton A. Dabbs, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, are investigating the case.

The Fraud Section is responsible for the Criminal Division’s efforts in combating health care fraud through its Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, comprised of 15 strike forces operating in 24 federal districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $19 billion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and HHS-OIG are also taking steps to hold healthcare providers responsible for participating in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.

An indictment is only an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in court.

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