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Prominent Cardiologist Admits Record $19 Million Medical Billing Fraud Scheme

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A cardiologist with offices in New York City and New Jersey carried out what federal authorities called the largest health care fraud ever recorded by a single practitioner in those states.

Web Extra: Katz Complaint (pdf)

Federal prosecutors said 68-year-old Jose Katz of Closter, N.J., admitted Wednesday to submitting $19 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.

Prosecutors said he subjected thousands of patients to unnecessary and potentially life-threatening treatments as a result of phony diagnoses.

"After years of prominence in his field, Jose Katz will now be remembered for his record-setting fraud," said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

"Katz was so focused on illegal profits that he directed unlicensed and unqualified providers to treat his patients, ordered unnecessary tests and cavalierly ordered treatments that could have caused patient harm. Ripping off the government and insurance companies is bad enough; risking patient health in the bargain is inexcusable," said Fishman.

Katz also admitted keeping his wife on his payroll, even though she did little or no work, so she would be eligible for a quarter-million dollars in Social Security.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, between July 2006 and February, 2009, Katz spent more than $6 million for advertising on Spanish-language television and radio stations. The ads attracted hundreds of patients to Cardio-Med and Comprehensive Healthcare every day.

Overall, Katz was able to bill Medicare and Medicaid more than $70 million for his services from 2005 through 2012, according to officials.

From 2005 through 2012, Medicare and Medicaid paid Katz more than $15.6 million just for hisEECP (enhanced external counter pulsation) treatments, most of which were fraudulent, according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty in Newark to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of Social Security fraud.

Sentencing was set for July 23.

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