December 15, 2015

Med Board Reprimands Doc Involved In Insurance Fraud Case, Fines Others

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A Monroe doctor who avoided prison time last year for his role in an extensive insurance fraud scheme was reprimanded Tuesday by the state Medical Examining Board.

The board also decided that Dr. James W. Marshall Jr., 60, who lives in Orange, will have his medical license placed on probation for six months if he renews his registration to prescribe controlled substances. He voluntarily surrendered that registration in 2011 after he was implicated in “Operation Running Man,” a 14-month undercover investigation of auto insurance fraud conducted by the FBI.

A hearing panel of the Medical Examining Board concluded that Marshall, who operates Immediate Medical Care in Monroe, prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet 145 times for 75 patients when they were not his patients and he had not examined them, according to the board’s memorandum of decision. Marshall believed the patients had been injured in car accidents, the memo said.

The panel found that Marshall had prescribed the painkillers between 2006 and 2010 as a favor to Francisco Carbone, who was stripped of his medical license by Connecticut officials in 2005 and then implicated in Operation Running Man. The panel, however, said it lacked enough evidence to prove that Marshall knew that Carbone and the prescriptions were part of a scheme to defraud insurance companies.

The FBI said Carbone conspired with attorney Joseph P. Haddad of Orange and Dr. Marc Kirshner, a chiropractor with offices in Bridgeport and Stamford, to exaggerate the auto accident injuries of Haddad’s clients to justify larger insurance settlements. Carbone enlisted Marshall to write the prescriptions, even when the narcotics were not needed, the FBI said.

On March 21, 2011, Marshall pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to illegally distribute prescription narcotics, according to the FBI.

On Aug. 28, 2014, Marshall was fined $5,000 in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, but Judge Stefan R. Underhill did not send him to prison. According to the medical board’s memo, Underhill said that Marshall “acted out of a misplaced sense of compassion for patients he believed were suffering and needed pain medication.” He added that Marshall has “shown remorse of rare depth and sincerity” and had already been supervised by the court for three years.

In July 2014, Carbone was sentenced to two years in federal prison, the FBI said. Last year, Haddad was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and Kirshner was sentenced to 27 months, the FBI said. Kirshner was also ordered to repay nearly $1.7 million in fraudulent insurance claims, the FBI said.

In an unrelated action, the board fined Dr. Mario Katigbak, a cardiothoracic surgeon from Hartford, $3,500 for failing to review a radiologist’s report for a patient and failing to notify the patient or the primary care physician that the radiologist had recommended a test to rule out a tumor.

Katigbak ordered the scan of a mass in the patient’s lung on Aug. 26, 2010, but failed to follow through, according to a consent order he signed with the board. In agreeing to the fine, he did not admit guilt or wrongdoing, the order said.

The patient’s daughter, from Southbury, filed a complaint with the state Department of Public Health. In a Sept. 16 letter to DPH, she wrote that her mother had died after a cancer diagnosis. By the time it was diagnosed, she wrote, it had spread from her mother’s colon to her liver and ovaries.

In another case Tuesday, the board approved a consent order that included a $5,000 fine of Dr. Michael Mankus of Hamden for prescribing narcotics to several patients without taking a medical history of them or examining them. Some of them were relatives or staff members, the cover sheet of the consent order states.

The order said Mankus also procured injectable Demerol for administration to patients by prescribing it for his office manager, who was not getting injections of the painkiller.

Mankus also failed to document his inventory or dispensing of controlled substances and did not adequately secure his prescription pads, the consent order said.

In addition to the fine, the board also imposed a permanent restriction to keep Mankus from prescribing controlled substances to himself, his family and his office staff.

State records say that Mankus has a physical illness that is now keeping him from practicing medicine and he sold his medical practice in 2014. Under the consent order, he may not resume the practice of medicine in Connecticut without providing 90 days’ notice to DPH.

On Tuesday, the board also approved a consent order that included a $3,500 fine of Dr. Alicia Kerr, an obstetrician and gynecologist from Norwalk, in connection with a patient who in February overdosed on Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug.

Board records show that in January, Kerr prescribed Xanax for a patient who was going to undergo an in-office procedure. DPH alleged that Kerr failed to clearly communicate the dosage to her office staff, resulting in the patient’s admission to a hospital for the overdose.

While admitting no wrongdoing, Kerr agreed to the penalty in the consent order. The order also said that Kerr has changed her office procedures for prescribing medication and has re-trained her staff.

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