Orthopedic surgeon pleads guilty to workers’ comp fraud

Laura Dyrda - Updated   Print  | Email

A Louisiana-based orthopedic surgeon has pleaded guilty to workers compensation fraud, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Robert Dale Bernauer Sr., MD, waived a grand jury indictment and pleaded guilty to participating in a fraud scheme between 2011 and 2017, according to a July 30 statement from the Justice Department. Dr. Bernauer admitted to dispensing pain creams and patches to workers' compensation patients in exchange for 50 percent of the profits collected by an unnamed Arkansas-based company, according to prosecutors.

The company billed for Dr. Bernauer's prescriptions and submitted false claims to the workers compensation program covering federal employees as well as private insurers and the co-conspirators violated Louisiana law by knowingly dispensing the topical creams and products from the clinic without the appropriate license, the Justice Department said.

In his guilty plea, Dr. Bernauer said he ignored red flags about the business arrangement and collected about $1 million from the scheme.

Dr. Bernauer agreed to pay $664,176.30 directly to the U.S. Labor Department within 30 days as part of his plea agreement.He will also pay $361,096.70, which will be distributed to insurers that experienced loss from the scheme. Dr. Bernauer faces up to five years in prison for pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy.

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