South Florida for years has been a hotbed for medical fraud, and the U.S. Department of Justice has been cracking down on various schemes through its intimidatingly named Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Last June, the DOJ charged more than 100 people with health-care fraud and other related grievances — and now a South Florida pain clinic operator is the latest to get some serious prison time.
Fifty-one-year-old Hollywood resident Scott Novick, who owned several American Pain Management clinics in Palm Beach and Broward Counties and the Pacific Pharmacy in Miami, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, amounting to $2.2 million in Medicare losses.
Last week, Novick was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and was ordered to liquidate his financial accounts and forfeit almost $1.4 million to Medicare. As part of his plea agreement, Novick admitted he made fraudulent claims to Medicare for cases at his clinic he knew weren't reimbursable. And he said he hid his ownership of Pacific Pharmacy to avoid legal repercussions after Florida passed laws prohibiting clinics from distributing controlled substances such as opioids.
Most of the prescriptions fulfilled at Pacific Pharmacy were written by a doctor at American Pain Management who often had never met the patient. The doctor would write prescriptions for drugs at "inappropriately high levels" and for no "legitimate medical purpose," according to a DOJ release.
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In sentencing documents, Novick's lawyer, Robin Eliani, described him as a married father of four with no criminal history.
"Scott is cognizant of the consequences to not only himself but to his family as well, and he is incredibly shamed, saddened, and accepting of the fact that it is his failure and his alone that put his family in this position," Eliani wrote to the court.
A July 9 hearing has been scheduled to determine further restitution in the case.
Novick is the latest in a line of pill mill owners and other conspirators sentenced by the Department of Justice this year, including seven Floridians who were busted in February for receiving bribes and kickbacks for providing unnecessary medical treatment. The Greater Palm Beach Health Care Fraud Task Force, which investigated those cases, has nabbed 30 convictions to date.