Behind bars for fraud: Neurosurgeon Dr. Aria Sabit receives nearly 20-year prison sentence — 8 key insights

Written by Megan Wood | January 10, 2017 | Print  |

Neurosurgeon Aria Sabit, MD, received a 235-month prison sentence today for fraud, as reported by Medscape.

Here are eight things you need to know:


Criminal history

1. Dr. Sabit possesses a significant criminal history, dating back to 2010. While practicing at Ventura, Calif.-based Community Memorial Hospital, Dr. Sabit "invested $5,000 in a physician-owned distributorship of screws, plates, rods and other pieces of spinal instrumentation," according to Medscape. He earned profits from the POD, called Apex Medical Technologies, and urged his hospital to use the equipment. Dr. Sabit performed numerous "unnecessary surgeries," receiving illegal kickbacks. Court documents revealed the Apex Medical Technologies illegal kickbacks totaled $440,000.


2. As a result of these unnecessary surgeries, about 30 of Dr. Sabit's patients sued him for malpractice. Community Memorial Hospital cut ties with Dr. Sabit in December 2010 to protect patients.


3. With a California career in the rearview, Dr. Sabit took his practice to Detroit. His fraudulent ways were far from over, however. He convinced patients to receive spinal fusions with metal instrumentation, but "subsequent diagnostic imaging revealed that he never installed the hardware, just bone dowels, and never achieved fusion," according to Medscape.



4. On Nov. 24, 2014, authorities arrested Dr. Sabit. By May 2015, he pleaded guilty to "various counts of fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud leading to serious bodily injury and one count of illegally distributing a controlled substance," as reported by Medscape.


5. The Department of Justice reported Dr. Sabit has stolen a total of $11 million from Medicare, Medicaid and private payers.


6. Although initially set to take place on Oct. 2, 2015, the judge postponed the sentencing after hearing of the plea agreement between Dr. Sabit's attorneys and prosecutors. His attorneys pushed for a sentence between nine years and 11 years.


7. Detroit's federal district court determined Dr. Sabit was a flight risk, so he has been imprisoned since his initial arrest.


8. Prosecutors fought for a sentence that "would make other physicians think twice about following in his footsteps," as reported by Medscape.


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