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Connecticut ophthalmologist sentenced to prison for health care fraud scheme



Connecticut ophthalmologist Donald Salzberg, MD, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for taking kickbacks in exchange for ordering medically unnecessary brain scans on patients. He was ordered to pay $1.34 million in restitution.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock/BillionPhotos.com)

(Image credit: Adobe Stock/BillionPhotos.com)

A Connecticut doctor was sentenced this month in federal court in Boston for receiving kickbacks in exchange for ordering medically unnecessary brain scans.

Ophthalmologist Donald Salzberg, MD, 69, of Avon, Connecticut, was sentenced May 10 by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to 1 year and 1 day in prison, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release, according to court documents.

In a news release, the United States Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts noted that Salzberg was also ordered to pay $1.34 million in restitution to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. In July 2022, Salzberg entered a guilty plea to 1 count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 1 count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks.1

Salzberg, a licensed medical doctor in the State of Connecticut for nearly 40 years, owned and operated Donald J. Salzberg, MD, an ophthalmology practice in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Between 2014 and 2019, Salzberg conspired with the principal of an unnamed diagnostics company that performed transcranial doppler scans, the Department of Justice reported in its news release. The ophthalmologist received kickbacks for ordering hundreds of these medically unnecessary ultrasound examinations, used to measure blood flow in parts of the brain.

According to the news release, Salzberg and his co-conspirator used false patient diagnoses to order the unnecessary brain scans, for which the co-conspirator would submit claims to Medicare and other insurance companies on behalf of the medical diagnostic company for payment. Salzberg was paid cash kickbacks of $100 to $125 per test that he ordered, as well as sham administrative services fees.

The US attorneys office noted ithe scheme resulted in fraudulent bills of more than $3 million to Medicare and private insurance companies.1

Authorities have not identified the diagnostics firm and its principal.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Roberto Coviello, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division; Harry Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, Boston Field Office; Carol S. Hamilton, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Boston Regional Office; Ketty Larco Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office made the announcement.1

Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Locker of the Health Care Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.

1. District of Massachusetts | Connecticut Ophthalmologist Sentenced to Prison for Five-Year Health Care Fraud Scheme | United States Department of Justice. www.justice.gov. Published May 10, 2024. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/connecticut-ophthalmologist-sentenced-prison-five-year-health-care-fraud-scheme
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