A lo cal doctor was sentenced this morning in U.S. District Court in Marquette in a case alleging insurance fraud.
Dr. Gope Hotchandani, 61, is the medical director of aesthetic clinics in Marquette, Iron Mountain, Appleton, Wis., and Green Bay, Wis.
Hotchandani had been charged with 87 counts of fraud when billing insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan between February 2003 and April 2004, sending in claims for more serious procedures than actually took place. He pleaded guilty to one of the counts in October.
Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced him to onDe month in prison, and ordered him to pay $20,000 in fines to the U.S. District Court. Hotchandani also must pay restitution of $18,646 to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. After his prison sentence is finished, he will spend five months in home confinement and three years on supervised probation.
Blue Cross director of corporate financial investigation Doug Cebras attended Hotchandani's sentencing and said his company had made about $930,000 in fraudulent payments in the case, as well as time and costs for Blue Cross investigation of the fraud.
"In an effort to recover this additional amount, two promissory notes were offered to Dr. Hotchandani this morning," Cebras said.
- One month
- $18,646 in
He added that Hotchandani and his attorney, Max Hoffman of Lansing, had not agreed to pay the amount, but the company will negotiate to settle the dispute outside of criminal court proceedings.
In addition, Hotchandani is required to employ a medical billing expert to review his billing and accounting quarterly and report to the court. In the future, all advertising for Hotchandani's business will include language informing the public aesthetic procedures may not be covered by health insurance.
Hotchandani spoke to the judge before his sentencing.
"I am deeply sorry for my actions and I hope I have a chance to pursue a greater good in this society," he said, later adding he took responsibility for mistakes he had made.
"Those actions were wrong," he said. "Everything I've done has been to try to take on new clients, and some of my actions have not been respectful."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Beckering, who prosecuted the case, said the turning point in Hotchandani's actions came after a review by insurance auditors, when he did not change coding and billing practices.
"When an insurance company comes in, does an audit, and tells you, Dr. Hotchandani, your ship is off course, as the captain of the ship ... you are responsible for what goes on. Instead of making sure it was ship-shape, he turned it around 180 degrees and committed intentional fraud," Beckering told the judge.