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Criminal Charges May Be Possible At St. Joseph

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) - There's new fallout from a multi-million dollar settlement between the federal government and St. Joseph Medical Center over kickbacks and unnecessary procedures.  The feds may not be done investigating the scandal.

Mike Hellgren has more on the possibility of criminal charges.

St. Joseph Medical Center will pay $22 million to the feds, part of a settlement where the government claims the hospital paid kickbacks to Midatlantic Cardiovascular Associates in exchange for patient referrals but that settlement is notable for what it does not include and that's a deal to stop any criminal prosecutions.

"I'm going to want to make sure if I give you that amount of money, I want you to guarantee me you're not going to prosecute me criminally.  Here the answer was, no, we are not going to guarantee you that," said law professor Byron Warnken.  "Anybody in this chain could go down and you never know where these cases are going to go."

"The only issue here is the resolution of the civil liability.  There are no promises beyond that as to any other matters," said Rod Rosenstein.

The settlement also claims St. Joseph billed the government for unnecessary stents placed in patients of prominent cardiologist Mark Midei, who founded Midatlantic before moving to St. Joseph, where his privileges were later revoked.

Dr. Midei strongly denies any wrongdoing.  He filed his own lawsuit against Saint Joseph.

Three cardiologists were whistleblowers for the government settlement with Saint Joseph.

"They're certainly ready to cooperate with the government on whatever next steps the government wants to take but that's up to the government," said Stephen Simms.

Right now, no one has been criminally charged as a result of the investigation.

The hospital did not admit liability in the settlement and says it will cooperate fully with any investigation.

St. Joseph and Dr. Midei also face more than 100 lawsuits from stent patients.  The settlement does not stop those from moving forward.

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