NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gilbert Lederman, a former director of radiation oncology at Staten Island University Hospital, agreed to pay $2.35 million to resolve claims that he defrauded Medicare by seeking reimbursement for an experimental cancer treatment he claimed to have pioneered in the United States.
Lederman, whose radio ads featuring his distinctive monotone have been a staple of New York airwaves, denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the 10-year-old False Claims Act lawsuit.
The settlement was made public on Monday by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn, who is President Barack Obama’s nominee to become U.S. attorney general. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson approved the accord on Nov. 20.
Now in private practice, Lederman was accused of having from 1996 to 2003 improperly sought roughly 300 reimbursements for stereotactic body radiosurgery treatments.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Medicare at the time limited coverage to treatments of cancers above the neck, and excluded Lederman’s treatments as “investigational,” or experimental. It said Lederman miscoded his claims to falsely show they were covered by Medicare.
Staten Island University Hospital agreed to pay $25 million to settle related claims in September 2008, as part of a series of settlements totaling $88.9 million.
“Providers who misrepresent their services - whether for the purpose of obtaining greater reimbursement or in an effort to conceal the fact that a treatment was deemed investigational - continue to pose a threat to Medicare,” Lynch said in a statement.
Jack Tracy, a lawyer for Lederman, in a phone interview said his client is “greatly relieved” to settle. “This settlement puts an end to a nightmare for him.”
The case was first brought in June 2004 by a whistleblower, Elizabeth Ryan, whose husband had been treated by the Staten Island hospital. The Justice Department joined the case in July 2008.
Ryan will receive $326,250 in Monday’s settlement, and Lederman will pay $175,000 toward her legal bills. Ryan had been awarded $3.75 million in the 2008 settlement.
“She’s quite happy that it finally ends the litigation,” her lawyer Richard Reich said in a phone interview. “While she can’t bring back her husband, some modicum of justice was done.”
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Gunna Dickson