- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2008

A prominent pain doctor who founded a multimillion-dollar practice was sentenced Friday to three years in federal prison for his role in one of the District’s largest health care scams.

Federal authorities unraveled a paper trail showing bogus billing by Martin McLaren’s practice to government health care programs totaling at least $1.75 million, which a prosecutor said amounted to one of the biggest individual health care frauds in city history.

“He is here because of flat out greed,” assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno said at McLaren’s sentencing in federal court in the District Friday.

McLaren, 65, agreed to pay a $5 million legal settlement. Tearfully, he told U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kotar-Kotelly that he prayed he would “emerge as a much stronger, better person.”

Defense attorney Kirby D. Behre had asked the judge to give McLaren, who expects to lose his medical license, a sentence of community service and home confinement instead of prison.

The Washington Times first reported on the federal investigation of McLaren in 2006 as authorities moved to seize his bank accounts and a 2005 Porsche automobile.

McLaren is the latest health care professional in the District to become ensnared in a series of fraud investigations involving millions of dollars in lost Medicaid and Medicare funds in recent years.

A prominent local eye doctor, Douglas F. Greer, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year after he admitted bilking Medicare and other health plans of more than $1 million.

Akiuber Ndormo James, former president of the D.C.-based Voice of Social Concern Association Inc., was found guilty last year of bilking the District’s Medicaid program of more than $1.8 million.

Six months ago, Judge Kotar-Kotelly sentenced Ricardo Henry, the founder of D.C.-based Insight Therapeutic Services Inc., a mental health clinic, to 20 months in prison after authorities raised questions about 80 percent of a half-million dollars in Medicaid claims his office submitted from 1999 to 2002.

As part of the sentence, Henry was ordered to turn over his 2001 Porsche.

Yesterday, Judge Kotar-Kotelly said there was evidence to suggest the fraud involving McLaren actually began with a billing manager. But she also noted that he failed to stop the scheme after he learned about it.

Concluding no motivation other than “greed,” the judge said, “He was paid money he wasn’t entitled to.”

In sentencing memos, prosecutors noted that McLaren’s practice, the Pain Management Center, was already profitable when the billing scam occurred over a span of five years.

“Because the Pain Management Center received multiple millions of dollars of income unrelated to his criminal scheme, the defendant could have been satisfied with profit from those procedures,” Mr. Zeno wrote. “But he was not.”

Mr. Behre said McLaren has already been punished enough.

“Dr. McLaren has already paid a substantial price for his criminal conduct,” Mr. Behre wrote in a memo to the judge. “He will lose his medical license and, therefore, his ability to earn a livelihood in his profession. As a result, Dr. McLaren will not be in a position to overbill again.”

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