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Alleged co-conspirator charged in $2.8 million Cleveland Clinic fraud

Wisam Rizk, of Westlake, Ohio allegedly caused incorporation of shell company, paid kickbacks for Fingerhut's silence, Department of Justice said.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Cleveland Clinic Main Campus. Credit: <a href="http://jobs.clevelandclinic.org/main-campus.html" target="_blank"> Cleveland Clinic </a>Cleveland Clinic Main Campus. Credit: Cleveland Clinic

A Westlake man has been charged for his alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud the Cleveland Clinic out of at least $2.8 million, the Department of Justice announced.

Wisam Rizk, of Westlake, Ohio was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, 27 counts of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He was arrested Thursday night.

According to the DOJ, Rizk worked as chief technology officer at Interactive Visual Health Records, a company formed by Cleveland Clinic Innovations to develop a conceptual visual medical charting project into a functioning product.

[Also: Former Cleveland Innovation exec faces prison in $2.7 million scam]

Rizk was hired at IVHR by Gary Fingerhut, the former executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations who pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.

As part of their employment, both men were not allowed to financially benefit from or have any personal or familial interests in companies the Clinic did business with, unless approved by the Clinic.

[Also: Running list of notable 2017 healthcare frauds]

Rizk and others executed the incorporation of a shell company known as iStarFZE, which performed no actual services or provided any goods, the DOJ said. Rizk also allegedly caused ISTAR to establish a website, email addresses and a mailing address in New York City so it would look like an operational business, the DOJ said, citing the indictment, and allegedly caused the submission of a bid to the Clinic to raise the price it paid for the software design and development. All these activities were allegedly conducted without Rizk disclosing his financial interest in ISTAR, the DOJ said.

The indictment also said Rizk paid Fingerhut occasional "referral" or "commission" fees in exchange for Fingerhut keeping the fraud scheme quiet, the DOJ said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com

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