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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Three More Physicians Charged in $580M Kickback Scheme at Pacific Hospital

Three more doctors were charged in connection to an alleged $580 million kickback scheme linked to spinal surgeries at the defunct Pacific Hospital in Long Beach.

David Hobart Payne, 60, of Irvine, was arraigned in federal court on June 14 after he was accused in a grand jury indictment of accepting a $450,000 bribe to direct around $10 million in kickback-tainted surgeries, according to prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Jeffrey David Gross, 52, of Dana Point, was accused in the indictment of receiving $622,000 for performing or referring $19 million in surgeries to the hospital.

Lokesh Tantuwaya, 51, of Rancho Santa Fe and Rock Springs, Wyo., was accused in the indictment of receiving $3.2 million in kickbacks for directing or performing $38 million in surgeries. He has pleaded not guilty and will be tried on Nov. 6.

In a kickback scheme that stretches back 15 years, nine people have been convicted, prosecutors said. During its last five years, it resulted in the submission of more than $500 million in fraudulent medical bills.

The former owner of the hospital, 73-year-old Michael D. Drobot, was accused of conspiring with doctors, chiropractors and marketers to pay kickbacks in return for the referral of thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other services, paid mostly through the state’s workers compensation system.

He was sentenced in January to more than five years in federal prison.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.

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