Orlando Eye Doctor Indicted on 20 Counts of Ophthalmology Medicare Fraud By Tod Aronovitz | 05/13/14 | 0 Comment

David Ming Pon, a Florida ophthalmologist with offices in Leesburg and west Orange County, was accused of bilking Medicare out of $7 million by allegedly lying to his patients, providing unnecessary and phony surgery to correct nonexistent problems, and then billing Medicare for the phantom treatment, according to a May 6 article in the Orlando Sentinel.

On April 24, a federal jury in Jacksonville indicted the 56-year old on 20 counts of healthcare fraud. Pon pleaded not guilty in one of the largest ophthalmology Medicare fraud cases in Florida, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Throughout the scheme, which occurred from 2006 to 2011, Pon convinced many of his patients that they needed to be treated for wet macular degeneration to prevent blindness.  The chronic eye disease causes vision loss due to abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into the eye.

After making the false diagnoses, Pon would then perform laser surgery needlessly, using an underpowered laser that would not affect the patient’s vision, the indictment revealed.

In addition to performing the unnecessary operations and follow-up visits, the grand jury found he fabricated medical notes.  There were 20 specific laser procedures from 2008 to 2010 linked to the false diagnoses of macular degeneration, prosecutors in the case alleged.

After months of plea negotiations that broke down, Pon turned himself in to federal authorities on April 29, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Under the proposed plea agreement, he would have faced 10 years in prison and forfeited millions of dollars in property. Now, if convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

The government seeks to recoup some of the $7 million Medicare paid to Pon as part of the scam.  Federal authorities have also filed paperwork to confiscate his $1.5 million Isleworth home, two Orlando condominiums, a Lexus and Porsche convertible.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux made his case before U.S. Magistrate Patricia Barksdale to hold Pon without bail, arguing that he is a flight risk with $10 million in investments in China and a connection to a Shanghai condo.

The judge consented, and according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service moved him to a federal prison in Folkston, Ga. Pon’s trial date has been set for this summer.

Ophthalmologists are among the highest-earning Medicare recipients in Florida, each averaging $382,000 in 2012, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month.  They ranked fourth on that list.

How to Report Miami Medicare Fraud

Healthcare professionals or medical billing employees who have knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect between 10 to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami Qui Tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss your case.