Two more Los Angeles-area doctors were charged on suspicion of participating in a $40 million health care kickback scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced July 16.

Dr. Jacob Tauber, 66, an orthopedic surgeon of Beverly Hills, and Serge Obukhoff, 62, a neurosurgeon of Malibu, were indicted by a federal grand jury on July 12 for receiving illegal kickbacks in exchange for referring patients for spinal surgeries and other services at the now-defunct Pacific Hospital of Long Beach.

The 15-year-long scheme generated nearly $1 billion in fraudulent claims to the federal government, the state and private insurers.

“These two physicians leverage vulnerable patients to participate in a fraudulent kickback scheme,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison, in a statement. “Their scheme violated their oaths as physicians as well as the law.”

Attorneys representing both surgeons could not be immediately identified for comment.

According to the indictment, Tauber performed non-spinal surgeries and referred patients to other surgeons for procedures at Pacific Hospital. He was also charged with receiving illicit payments to refer urinalysis specimens to a specific lab.

Allegedly influenced by the promise of kickbacks and bribes, both Tauber and Obukhoff were charged with causing patients with insurance or other covered claims to receive surgeries and surgeries at the same hospital.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on June 28 charged nearly three dozen physicians, pharmacists and others for allegedly trying to bilk insurers out of $660 million in fraudulent health care bills.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced it had filed 16 criminal cases against 33 Southern California defendants as part of a nationwide sweep to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of roughly $2 billion in health care fraud.

Seven physicians were charged as part of “Operation Spinal Cap,” the illegal kickback scheme spearheaded by former Pacific Hospital owner Michael Drobot, who was in January to more than five years in federal prison.

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

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