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Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Cancer Genomic Testing Schemes, to Pay $97.4M in Restitution

NEW YORK – A man from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pled guilty to three counts of healthcare fraud related to cancer genomic testing, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday.

Daniel Hurt admitted to three separate schemes to defraud Medicare. In the first, he worked with marketers to acquire thousands of testing samples from Medicare beneficiaries throughout the US and sent them to Ellwood City Medical Center in Pennsylvania, which did not have properly validated equipment to conduct cancer genomic testing, according to the US Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania. He then had staff members at the hospital repackage the samples and send them to third-party reference laboratories that conducted the testing.

Hurt and his partners also obtained prescriptions for the tests from telemedicine providers to get reimbursed by Medicare, even though the doctors didn't conduct proper visits, were not treating the beneficiaries for cancer or symptoms of cancer, and didn't use the test results in the treatment of beneficiaries, the DOJ said. He said that Medicare claims for testing often totaled more than $12,000 per beneficiary, and between January and October 2019 the medical center was reimbursed by Medicare for more than $25 million. Hurt also used funds from the hospital to pay kickbacks to marketers who helped him collect the samples.

From 2019 to 2021, Hurt conducted a similar scheme in New Jersey, where he owned multiple clinical laboratories. He paid kickbacks and bribes to people who supplied referrals and orders for cancer genomic testing for Medicare and other healthcare program beneficiaries, regardless of medical necessity. In this scheme, Medicare paid his laboratories at least $53.3 million for test claims and Hurt himself received at least $26.9 million.

In a separate deal in 2014, Hurt worked with people to solicit patients with insurance and get prescriptions for medically unnecessary drugs, coordinating with a pharmacy in Florida to receive kickbacks for the patient referrals, according to DOJ.

In total, Hurt agreed to pay nearly $97.4 million in restitution to Medicare and other state health insurance programs and to forfeit $31.1 million, as well as a luxury yacht he named "In My DNA" that he purchased with the money. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each charge in Pennsylvania and Florida and 10 years in prison for the New Jersey charge, as well as additional fines in each state.