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Medical Labs Seek Return of Material Taken in Raids

February 26, 1988|A. DAHLEEN GLANTON | Times Staff Writer

The owner of a group of diagnostic laboratories under investigation in a multimillion-dollar insurance fraud scheme filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday seeking the return of medical records and equipment seized during a raid by federal and state investigators.

The suit, filed on behalf of David Smuskevitch and his wife, Alla, states that the search warrant issued in a Feb. 8 raid at their Encino home and 18 medical facilities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties contained false statements and misrepresentations.

The lawsuit seeks the return of 200 file cabinets containing medical records of patients and a $30,000 cashier's check, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The suit, which names U.S. Atty. Robert C. Bonner and Asst. U.S. Atty. Brian Hennigan, also asks that the sealed affidavits seeking the search warrants be opened.

David Smuskevitch and his brother, Michael, are the targets of a federal investigation into charges that their Southern California diagnostic laboratories have fraudulently billed insurance companies for million of dollars in unnecessary medical tests, often on healthy patients. Three private insurers have sued them in federal court.

Attorneys for the Smuskevitch brothers have denied the charges.

David Smuskevitch is serving a three-year federal prison term at the Boron Federal Prison in Kern County on his conviction for soliciting kickbacks in connection with a Norwalk diagnostic lab, his attorney said.

Federal and state investigators raided 24 doctors' offices, medical laboratories and homes Feb. 8, seizing patient lists, billing information, payroll records, computers and typewriters, attorneys for the Smuskevitchs said. Among those raided was the Fitness Spectrum medical lab in Tustin.

Neither official from the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles was available for comment Thursday. Hennigan said Wednesday, however, that officials are returning the current medical records to the labs.

"In regard to present medical records, they are entitled to have their open files returned. We're not interested in holding onto records where somebody had a test done and is awaiting test results. We're interested in holding records where the insurance company already has been billed," Hennigan said.

Company officials ran newspaper ads this week in Orange County and San Bernardino, asking patients to contact the administrative offices in Tustin to determine if their medical records were taken in the raid.

Sabrina Davis, a collections manager at the Tustin office, said the seizure of the medical records effectively forced the centers to shut down operation. She said she has received 150 to 200 calls since Monday from patients who are concerned that their civil rights have been violated.

"We want our patients to be aware that it's not our fault, and we have every concern about them," she said. "We are giving them a procedure to call the U.S. attorney's office and talk to Hennigan. Even if he doesn't return the records to us, we hope he will give them to the patients who really need them."

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