Connecticut ophthalmologist pleads guilty in health care fraud scheme

Donald Salzberg, MD, conspired with an alleged accomplice at a medical diagnostic company in a scheme that ran for five years, from 2014 through 2019, according to U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

A Connecticut doctor pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to receiving kickbacks in exchange for ordering medically unnecessary brain scans.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, Donald Salzberg, MD, 67, of Avon, Conn., pleaded guilty before U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks.

The court has yet to set a date for a sentencing hearing. Salzberg was charged by an Information on May 23.

Salzberg, who for 36 years has been a licensed ophthalmologist in Connecticut, owned and operated Donald J. Salzberg, MD, an ophthalmology practice in West Hartford, Conn.

According to federal authorities, from 2014 through 2019, Salzberg conspired with a principal for a medical diagnostics company that performed transcranial doppler (TCD) scans – brain scans that measure blood flow in parts of the brain – to order hundreds of medically unnecessary TCD scans in exchange for kickbacks.

Salzberg, whose practice is in West Hartford, Conn., used false patient diagnoses to order the brain scans and the other person would submit claims to Medicare and other insurance companies for payment, prosecutors said.

Salzberg was paid cash kickbacks of $100 to $125 for each test that he ordered, as well as sham administrative services fees. More than $3 million in fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicare and private insurance companies, according to federal authorities.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston noted that charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel Y. Hemani and Howard Locker of Rollins’ Health Care Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.