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The doctor pleads guilty to a kickback system involving painkillers



A doctor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, pleaded guilty Friday to federal fraud allegations stemming from a profit-sharing deal with a company that sells topical creams and patches to injured workers, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Dr. Robert Dale Bernauer engaged in the six-year system to deceive the U.S. government and private insurance companies by over-billing for unnecessary medications provided to workers as compensation patients gave him more than $ 1 million in profits, according to the department.

Court documents say that people associated with the unnamed pharmaceutical company recruited Dr. Bernauer to distribute pain creams and patches to his co-workers' patients by offering him a 50% share of the profits collected from insurers.

The company then acted as a billing agent for Dr. Bernauer, handles the fraudulent claims filed with the U.S. Department of Labor & # 39 ;s Office of Workers & # 39; Compensation Programs, which cover federal employees, and to private insurance companies.

The company invoiced insurance companies with a surcharge of 1

5 to 20 times what the medicines actually cost, according to investigators.

Dr. Bernauer acknowledged that both he and his co-conspirators knew he did not have a license to dispense medicines from his clinic but signed two agreements under which he agreed to buy topical drugs at set prices and dispense them exclusively to his co-workers, according to the DOJ. In his plea agreement, Dr. Bernauer agreed to pay nearly $ 1 million to several entities, including the Department of Labor, court offices and insurers affected by the system. He could be subject to an additional $ 1 million in repayment as "a shared obligation with one of his co-conspirators who is later convicted," the DOJ said.

He is also facing a potential prison sentence of up to five years, according to the department.

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