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Orange County

Podiatrist Billed for Amputees, U.S. Claims

October 24, 2003|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A podiatrist with offices in Orange and Los Angeles counties has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud after allegedly billing Medicare for, among other things, medical procedures he claimed to have performed on people without feet.

"In some ways it's unusual," Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeannie M. Joseph said Thursday about the case. "I don't see too many [podiatrists] accused of billing for dead people and amputees."

Dr. Robert "Ken" Kasamatsu, 41, of Chino Hills first came to the attention of federal officials, Joseph said, when several Medicare clients complained that their statements indicated procedures paid for but never performed.

A subsequent investigation, she said, revealed an estimated 100 such cases involving nearly 30 patients who were dead and almost 40 who had lost either one or both legs. In some of the cases involving amputees, Joseph said, Kasamatsu had treated one foot while claiming to have treated two.

All told, she said, the doctor is believed to have billed Medicare for nearly $630,000 in fraudulent charges from 1996 until 2000.

"It's flagrant fraud and he needs to be stopped," she said. "The reason we have trouble getting older people prescription coverage is that the system doesn't have enough money and it's for reasons of fraud. Every time we stop somebody who's defrauding the system, I think it helps."

Kasamatsu, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled for arraignment Monday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. If convicted, Joseph said, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $500,000.

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