Metro-East doctor pleads guilty to fraud

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 27, 2005, 5:16am

John Petrovich, M.D., 46, a Granite City surgeon and target of at least 15 medical malpractice cases, pled guilty on July 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one felony charge of health care fraud.

One suit filed in 2004 in Madison County by Jan Fuhler claims she was fired by Granite City Hospital after alleging that Petrovich was using cocaine.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Petrovich, of St. Louis, admitted that he knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud a health care benefit program, namely the Illinois Medicaid program, and that his scheme was in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items, or services, namely prescription drugs.

Petrovich faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both, and up to three years of supervised release.

According to a statement issues by Ronald Tenpas, the U.S. Attorney for Southern Illinois, Petrovich admitted that he rented a hotel room in Caseyville on April 16, 2004, where he was visited by a female who received Medicaid benefits.

Petrovich admitted the purpose of the visit was not to receive medical treatment, but he prescribed anti-anxiety and pain relief medication for her and others solely for recreational use.

“Petrovich knew and understood that the Illinois Medicaid program would not pay for prescription drugs under those circumstances, and at times even told the beneficiary to pay cash rather than using Medicaid,” the statement states.

The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lay.

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