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Medical Mafia and Howard Awand

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Medical Mafia and Howard Awand

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Las Vegas

A Las Vegas man, named as a former medical consultant, refused to testify before a grand jury about his role in a scheme that involved personal injury, medical malpractice and medical liens. Howard Awand, 66, who was already incarcerated for income tax evasion and failing to report criminal activity, refused to testify before a grand jury on Nov. 10 even though he was under the threat of having his imprisonment lengthened for the duration of the grand jury’s tenure.

The grand jury apparently continued to investigate what prosecutors described as a scheme to defraud medical clients by protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits and sharing kickbacks from legal settlements. An attorney and a doctor accepted plea agreements in the case, and two other doctors got immunity in exchange for testimony.

Awand was a medical consultant who paid doctors for referring personal-injury cases to him, which the medical consultant then passed these along to a group of lawyers, who in turn paid the medical consultant for the referrals. He got the doctors — protected from medical malpractice lawsuits themselves — to lie in the courtroom in order to inflate personal-injury settlements, money the lawyers shared with the medical consultant to keep the lucrative referrals coming, see, and …confused yet?

According to federal prosecutors, the Medical Mafia scam basically worked like this: Money from personal-injury lawsuits flowed down, and juicy personal-injury case referrals flowed up. At the top are lawyers and clients; at the bottom are doctors.

So-called “medical consultant” Howard Awand was alleged to be at the center of it. Prosecutors said he paid a carefully cultivated network of doctors to refer injured patients to him. In turn, Awand referred those injured patients to a select crew of lawyers, who would pay Awand a portion of their lawsuit settlements — without the knowledge of clients.

But Awand was more than a mere cashier or middleman, say prosecutors. They said, in some instances, Awand also hooked up these doctors and lawyers in personal-injury trials. The doctors lied about patients’ injuries to jack up settlements, and settlement money paid by insurance companies would rain down, from lawyers to Awand to the doctors.

Awand didn’t just give doctors money. He gave them peace of mind, too; the government also alleged the doctors in Awand’s network were shielded from malpractice lawsuits from the attorneys in Awand’s network. Besides, to sue a doctor in the network would be biting the hand that feeds.

Sources: http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/secret-justice-112468129.html

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