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Fraud


DAVID MALAMED


Make No Assumptions, Just Examine the Facts


evaluations that never occurred and staff falsified MRI and other records to justify surgeries, some of which were unneces- sary,” prosecutors alleged. The accused also prescribed unnecessary expensive medica-


tions and billed two-minute doctor’s appointments as hour- long examinations, the Associated Press reported. The indictments, which list 132 felonies, name Uwaydah


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AST SEPTEMBER, TWO INDICTMENTS were unsealed that accused 49-year-old Dr. Munir Uwaydah, his attorney and more than a dozen associates of carrying out one of


the largest insurance fraud scams in California history, the Los Angeles Times reported. According to prosecutors, patients were told a board-certified


orthopedic surgeon would conduct their operations. Instead, the surgeries were “performed by a physician’s assistant, [Peter Nelson], who had never attended medical school and was not overseen by the surgeon during the operations.” The procedures left two dozen patients with lasting scars.


Many had to undergo additional surgeries to repair the damage. “Following a five-year investigation, prosecutors say they


uncovered a vast conspiracy in which attorneys and others ille- gally referred patients to Uwaydah’s clinics in exchange for up to US$10,000 a month,” the newspaper reported. Nelson conducted the surgeries at an Orange County hospital


in 2005, despite being unqualified to do so. Uwaydah and Nelson were charged with 21 counts of aggra-


vated mayhem — each for a different patient — though the DA’s office said those represent a fraction of the hundreds of proce- dures Nelson performed. Among the other accused were workers’ compensation


lawyers who received kickbacks to send patients to Uwaydah’s clinics. They got bonuses if the patients were candidates for surgery and more if they received operations, the indictment said. In some instances, even patients were paid if they were reluctant to go through with the expensive surgeries. “At the doctor’s clinics, a physician documented medical


56 | CPA MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


and 14 other defendants, including his physician’s assistant and the billing manager at his medical practice. They “paint a clear picture of a sophisticated and savvy group of criminal conspirators who placed profits above the health and welfare of the thousands of patients they purported to treat,” deputy district attorney Catherine Chon said in court papers. “The callous disregard and extreme indifference that was shown to unsuspecting victims is reflected in the overt acts alleged.” The case has an even darker side to it. “Prosecutors said


Uwaydah fled to his native Lebanon in 2010 aſter they began investigating fraud as a possible motive in the 2008 strangling of [21-year-old] Juliana Redding, an aspiring model [and actress] he once dated,” AP said. The Daily Mail reported that Redding’s father, Greg, had can-


celled a business deal with Uwaydah five days prior to his daughter’s murder. The deal involved Greg, a pharmacist in Arizona, “managing a pharmacy and helping to develop prod- ucts for a medical manufacturing company the Lebanese- American businessman had founded.” Greg, however, had found out that the surgeon, who was


known to own property across the world, including at least one Beverly Hills home and a horse farm, had misrepresented himself to Juliana, who was a Maxim cover girl. Through a background check he learned that Uwaydah “was lying about his age, was married and had a family.” Prosecutors suspected Uwaydah, but they were unable to


link him directly to the death. They did charge his personal assistant and office manager, Kelly Soo Park, with the brutal murder aſter her DNA was found throughout the crime scene. They alleged that Uwaydah had paid her a six-figure amount to rough up Juliana as payback for her father’s decision to end his business dealings with the doctor. Things went too far, they said, and Juliana died. Two days aſter Park’s arrest, Uwaydah fled the US. Park, who pleaded not guilty, was acquitted by a jury in 2013. Park was arrested again in 2015, however, and charged with mayhem in aiding Uwaydah’s billing scheme. If convicted,


Photo: Jamie Hogge


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