Financial Crime: Podiatrist charged with running $11 million foot-bath Medicare scam — and prescribing treatments that did not dissolve in water
He really put his foot in it.
A Mississippi podiatrist has been charged with running a $11 million foot-bath scam, allegedly ripping off Medicare and other health programs by prescribing unnecessary but expensive treatments that didn’t even work, prosecutors said.
Carey “Craig” Williams, 63, of Water Valley is accused of ordering up drug cocktails aimed at maximizing the reimbursements he would receive but that weren’t actually designed for the treatments he prescribed.
Williams, who ran North Mississippi Foot Specialists P.C. as well as an in-house pharmacy, allegedly would prescribe antibiotics and antifungal drugs to be dissolved in a warm water foot bath, but often using capsules and creams that weren’t water soluble, prosecutors said.
Federal investigators say Williams also would order medically unnecessary molecular diagnostic tests on his patients’ toenail clippings to look for things like the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease.” Also known as “cat scratch fever,” the disease can cause fatigue and headaches and can cause more serious problems for people with compromised immune systems, but it cannot be detected in a person’s toenails, prosecutors said.
Accused of taking kickbacks
Williams is also accused of taking kickbacks from a marketer in exchange for writing prescriptions for foot-bath medications, and referring biological specimens and testing orders to pharmacies and laboratories.
In all, prosecutors say Williams submitted over $4.9 million in false claims to Medicare between 2016 and 2021 for the expensive foot bath medications, and $6.4 million in bogus claims for molecular tests between 2018 and 2021.
An attorney for Williams didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Williams was indicted by a grand jury on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, seven counts of health-care fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of soliciting and receiving kickbacks. He was released on $10,000 bond.
Food-bath fraud has become an increasingly common Medicare scam, with federal prosecutors bringing similar charges against podiatrists and pharmacy operators in Tennessee and Missouri in recent months.
In the Tennessee case, prosecutors charged a Memphis podiatrist in September with stealing $4 million from Medicare by allegedly prescribing bogus foot baths that cost $18,000 a pop. In Missouri, prosecutors in October charged a pharmacy owner with fraudulently billing Medicare $4.7 million for unnecessary foot baths as part of an alleged larger kickback scheme.