Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsSentencing

Los Angeles

Eye Clinic Doctor Gets Prison Term

June 11, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A physician who ran a chain of laser eye clinics where he faked operations was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for defrauding Medicare.

Dr. Antoine L. Garabet, 46, of Glendora also was fined $200,000 and ordered to pay $264,653 in restitution. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson stayed the sentence pending an appeal. Defense lawyer Richard Marmaro, who had asked that Garabet be sentenced to community service, said afterward that he was "very disappointed."

Garabet and his Laser Eye Centers, a chain of 23 clinics, were convicted by a federal jury in Los Angeles last year on four counts of fraud. He was acquitted on six others. The California Medical Board has since moved to revoke or suspend his license, alleging gross negligence, incompetence and dishonesty. An administrative hearing is pending.

In the federal criminal case, Garabet was found guilty of telling elderly Medicare patients that they had glaucoma or other retinal diseases that could lead to blindness, and then persuading them to undergo laser surgery.

But Assistant U.S. Atty. Larry Ng, who tried the case, said the surgeries were bogus. "He basically did a light show for them," Ng said. "He went through the motions to make it appear that he was doing something."

Garabet also was accused of overbilling Medicare for surgeries that were performed, but the judge dismissed those counts at trial.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|