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Three Doctors to Pay $700K to Settle Allegations of Improper Financial Scheme With Lab

NEW YORK (360Dx) – Three doctors have agreed to pay a total of $700,000 to settle allegations they received improper payments for referrals from a drug testing laboratory, the US Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania announced today.

Robert Fetchero of Jeannette, Pennsylvania; Sridhar Pinnameneni of Windermere, Florida; and Thelma Green-Mack of Zionsville, Indiana separately agreed to settle allegations that they received improper payments for referrals from Universal Oral Fluid Laboratories of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The attorney's office alleged the doctors caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare for drug testing.

Federal authorities said UOFL paid the physicians to refer their patients to the lab for drug tests. The lab then submitted claims to Medicare for drug testing services from 2011 to 2014. UOFL had been owned and operated by William Hughes, the attorney's office said.

The financial arrangement between the three doctors and the lab violated legislation commonly known as the "Stark Law" that forbids doctors from making referrals to certain designated health facilities if Medicare pays for the services, and the doctors, or immediate family members, have financial stakes in the facilities, unless an exception applies.

The doctors were also alleged to have violated anti-kickback statutes.

In connection to the settlement deals, Fetchero is paying $200,000, while Pinnameneni will pay $370,000, and Green-Mack will pay $130,000.

UOFL Medical Director John Johnson of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania had previously pled guilty to related charges, the US attorney's office said.