A prominent Rhode Island cardiologist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $70,000 for accepting kickbacks from a Sylmar firm to implant unneeded pacemakers in heart patients.
Dr. Felix Balasco, 46, of Providence, was convicted of extorting $4,400 from Pacesetter Systems Inc. of Sylmar by threatening not to implant the firm's pacemakers. On Jan. 17, in U.S. District Court in Providence, Balasco was found guilty of extortion, conspiracy and two counts of Medicare fraud.
"Needless, outrageous harm was caused by Dr. Balasco's rapacious greed for money," Judge Raymond Pettine said as he passed sentence Friday. "He has now destroyed himself as a doctor."
The Rhode Island Board of Medical Review revoked Balasco's license after hearing testimony that Balasco implanted pacemakers in at least 28 patients with normal hearts and falsified medical records to justify the surgery. Balasco filed a Superior Court action challenging the revocation.