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April 8, 09

NEWS / Local Podiatrist Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Federal Audit


ST. LOUIS, MOóDr. Bic Chau Stafford pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal audit when providing the Medicare program with a false backdated treatment record, United States Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway announced today.

Dr. Stafford billed Medicare for numerous complex foot surgery procedures allegedly provided to 39 local Medicare beneficiaries when she was really providing these patients with only routine foot care, such as toe nail clipping. When she was audited by the Medicare program in 2007, Medicare denied her claims for reimbursement regarding 39 these beneficiaries and requested that she repay $6840 for non-covered services that had been previously paid to her. Dr. Stafford challenged this overpayment determination, and as part of her efforts to avoid paying the overpayment, Dr. Stafford created new treatment records for these 39 patients in 2007, back-dating them in 2004 using fraudulent treatment information, claiming that she had provided these patients with podiatric surgical procedures instead of routine foot care.

Dr. Bic Chau Stafford practices at the Family Foot and Ankle Care Center, in Maryland Heights, MO as well as assorted assisted living facilities in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. She has been enrolled as a Medicare healthcare provider since 2004. In this capacity, Dr. Stafford is aware that Medicare does not reimburse podiatrists for routine foot care provided unless the patient has a significant medical condition that has resulted in severe circulatory complications.

Stafford, 59, St. Louis, MO, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction of a federal audit. She appeared before United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry. Dr. Stafford now faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000, when she is sentenced on June 17, 2009.

Hanaway commended the work on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 




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