A Beverly Hills surgeon, his girlfriend and four others were charged in connection with an elaborate scheme, paying patients at Southern California sober living homes to undergo medically unnecessary surgeries, medical testing and other procedures to bilk insurance companies out of nearly $52 million, officials said Friday.
In announcing the charges, the Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer called the defendants “real-life Frankensteins.”
Dr. Randy Rosen, 57, has been charged with 88 counts in two separate cases involving the recruitment and hiring of numerous “body brokers” to find and pay patients to have medically unnecessary implant surgeries and cortisone shots.
Numerous insurance companies were billed for the unnecessary procedures, but were never informed that the patients were being trafficked and paid to have them. The insurance companies were billed about $600 million and paid out about $50 million, officials said.
Rosen also allegedly required the patients to undergo unnecessary drug tests and sent them to Lotus Laboratories, owned by his girlfriend, Liza Vismanos, to get tested, officials said. The laboratory then fraudulently billed at least 22 different insurance providers more than $3 million, officials said.
California law prohibits referrals where the physician or his immediate family has a financial interest with the person or company receiving the referral, officials explained.
Vismanos, 41, was charged with 56 felony counts in two separate cases.
The pair was arrested June 30 on nearly $52 million warrants, the amount stolen as a result of the scheme, according to the DA’s Office. They both pleaded not guilty to their respective charges on Thursday.
The so-called body brokers, who identified the potential patients, are being accused of money laundering, fraud white-collar crime enhancements among other charges. They were identified as Robert Mellon, 52, of San Diego, Thomas Douglas, 29, of Playa del Rey, Shea Simmons, 28, of Jeanerette, Louisiana, and Patrick Connolly, 28, of Los Angeles.
Rosen’s bail was reduced to $15 million in one case and $1 million in the other case. While Vismanos’ bail was reduced to $3 million in one case and $100,000 for the second case. Both defendants will be monitored by a GPS device and were required to surrender their passports.
Rosen faces nearly 85 years in prison if convicted of all charges, while Vismanos faces 36 years.
All the defendants will have to establish that any money used to pay for bail comes from a legitimate source, officials said.
“Vulnerable sober living patients who were trying desperately to battle their addictions were treated like human guinea pigs just to make a buck,” Spitzer said in a statement. “I refuse to allow these body brokers to exploit and traffic human beings as part of a sick and twisted plot to line their own pockets. This prosecution is a testament to the dedicated work of our prosecutors and our Bureau of Investigation to hold these real-life Frankensteins accountable.”