Dr. Richard F. Toussaint Jr., an anesthesiologist who helped found and was part owner of Forest Park Medical Center, has been sentenced to five-and-half years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay $82.9 million in restitution, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox announced this week.
Toussaint is already serving a 41-month federal prison sentence for an additional fraud scheme where he claimed he was present for procedures that occurred while he was out of state. The physician was a major player in the $200 million Forest Park Medical Center fraud, which involved illegal kickbacks and bribes to make sure operations occurred at the out-of-network luxury hospital, which eventually went bankrupt.
Toussaint pleaded guilty in March 2018, admitting to one count of conspiracy to pay health care bribes and kickbacks and one count of illegal remuneration under the Travel Act. He was one of 18 defendants convicted in the crime. The 66-month sentence resulting from the Forest Park fraud will be served concurrent to the 41-month sentence already underway.
In pleading guilty, Toussaint described how he and co-defendant Dr. Wade Neal Barker launched the hospital for spinal and bariatric surgery patients and conspired attract patients with out-of-network private insurance that would result in large reimbursements by paying off surgeons to refer their patients to have operations at Forest Park. Many of the payments to physicians were disguised as marketing money, but were given out as a percentage of surgeries that doctors referred to Forest Park, which is illegal. The hospital never billed for out-of-network copays, the hospital would waive co-insurance and told patients they would pay in-network prices, hiding the lack of funds as uncollected “bad debt.”
In 2016, the federal government brought indictments against 21 total defendants, and 11 of them—Toussaint included—pleaded guilty before a trial began. The trial for the remaining 10 defendants took place in 2019, resulting in convictions for all but two of them.