Grand jury testimony was released to the public in a case prosecutors are calling, “one of the largest insurance fraud schemes in California history.” The testimony alleges a harrowing portrait of conspiracy, fraud, and flagrant and dangerous professional negligence, including, unnecessary surgery, surgery by non-surgeons, and insurance manipulation and fraud. 15 individuals are named in this insurance and medical malpractice fiasco.
An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Munir Uwaydah, allegedly operated the suspected Frontline Medical Clinic. The alleged mastermind of the scheme was arrested and currently awaiting extradition from Germany.
The testimony states patients routinely complained of scarring and infected wounds after receiving surgical treatment from Uwaydah’s clinic. The prosecution alleges that as many as 21 patients “suffered lasting scars or other injuries as a result of surgeries at Uwaydah’s clinics.” In addition, prosecutors stated the suspected conspirators paid kickbacks to attorneys and middlemen in exchange for patient referrals. The DA’s office alleged that more that $150 million was fraudulently billed to insurance companies, including billing for huge amounts of medicine that patients never received.
Among the conspirators named in the indictments are Uwaydah’s office manager Kelly Soo Park, whose alleged role was to tamper with witnesses or attempt to do so by researching their backgrounds. Investigators found evidence of forged documents in a folder labeled ‘Pinocchio’ on Park’s computer. This is the same woman who, two years prior, was acquitted of killing 21-year-old Juliana Redding in her Santa Monica Home in March 2008, a case in which Dr. Uwaydah was a suspect.
Even more grotesque are allegations that a physician assistant, Peter Nelson (who allegedly never attended medical school) often operated on patients unknowingly, without their consent, and who even thought Uwaydah himself was doing the surgeries. Nelson, “did about 100 knee and shoulder surgeries on his own” while Uwaydah was in his office or pacing in the hallway on his cell phone. According to the testimony of anesthesiologist Dr. Edgar Cosme, Nelson began performing a lumbar fusion surgery on a patient.
Ultimately, the alleged empire was described best by “Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai, who told grand jurors that the alleged scheme was a “case of profit over care” and “organized crime.”