Healthcare Fraud

Forest Park Founder Says They “Didn’t Hide Expectations” for $40 Million in Kickbacks

Forest Park Medical Center co-founder Wade Barker testified that the organization “didn’t hide expectations” from doctors and staff that the $40 million they received was for steering surgeries to the hospital, according to Law 360.

Barker, a bariatric surgeon who pleaded guilty last fall, said that the payments were to get surgeons to operate at their facility, and that he knew what he was doing was illegal. Law 360 reports that Barker will be sentenced to 60-77 months in federal prison for the kickback scheme.

Barker was the seventh of the 21 indicted individuals to plead guilty to being a part of the kickback scheme where the specialty surgery hospital paid surgeons to bring in operations. Forest Park is alleged to have billed $200 million in tainted or illegal claims.

The chain of doctor-led luxury hospitals began in 2009 in Dallas, but quickly spread to Fort Worth, Southlake, Frisco, and San Antonio. The organization and its founders formed a real estate company to buy land for new hospitals, a private equity firm, and even a movie production company. But each of the hospitals eventually went bankrupt because insurance companies became less likely to pay the out-of-network surgery costs, killing the patient base.

There are nine remaining defendants who claim they are innocent of the violations of the federal Travel Act, which is being used to prosecute the crime in federal court. The Travel Act bans the use of mail or interstate travel for the purpose of engaging in bribery. Several of the defendants who have pleaded guilty are now witnesses for the government, and the trial continues this week.

Read the entire Law 360 story here.


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