ST. LOUIS – A psychiatrist from Chesterfield, Missouri, appeared in federal court Tuesday and admitted defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurers of millions of dollars through phony claims he filed over the years.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Dr. Franco Sicuro, 67, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to court documents, Sicuro either ran, owned, served as the medical director of, or was associated with the following health care businesses: Millennium Psychiatric Associates LLC (MPA), Advanced Geriatric Management (AGM), Centrec Care, Sleep Consultants of St. Louis LLC, Midwest Toxicology Group, Genotec Dx, and Benemed Diagnostics LLC.
In 2014, Sicuro and business partner Carlos Himpler, 51, opened Genotec in the same building as AGM. In order to obtain clinical lab certification, the two men lied and claimed Genotec and AGM were separate labs, but they shared a single part-time employee, the same medical director, and the same testing equipment.
Sicuro’s interests in Genotec were concealed from private health care insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid, meaning they were unaware Sicuro and his employees at AGM were referring patients for tests at a lab in which Sicuro had a financial stake.
Sicuro and Himpler would pay other clinical labs $125 for tests on a single specimen, then bill insurers at a mark-up, but would not indicate if the tests had actually performed those tests.
In some instances, Sicuro and Himpler’s companies would be paid $30,000 to $50,000 for a single urine drug test.
As part of his plea, Sicuro admitted to using different billing codes and submitting reimbursement claims on different days for the same patient and date of service.
Sicuro will be sentenced on Feb. 8, 2023. He faces up to five years in prison and will be ordered to repay the money. On Tuesday, Sicuro agreed to forfeit $3.1 million from various sources.
The case against Himpler is still pending. He’s pleaded not guilty in Baton Rouge federal court to charges of conspiracy, health care fraud, and money laundering.