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Cleveland Clinic Innovation executive sentenced to prison for fraud

Gary Fingerhut previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The Department of Justice announced that Gary Fingerhut, a former manager of a Cleveland Clinic spin-off, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and $2.7 million in restitution for conspiracy to defraud the Cleveland Clinic.

WHY IT MATTERS

The clinic hired Fingerhut in 2010 to help manage the development of products inspired by the clinic's physicians, particularly a visual medical chart. When the Cleveland Clinic promoted Fingerhut from general manger of information tech to executive director, he made a false move that landed him in jail and millions of dollars in the hole.

Fingerhut has admitted to his crimes, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud and one count of making false statements.

According to court records, Fingerhut worked at Cleveland Clinic Innovations, a clinic spin-off, which  formed a subsidiary company, Interactive Visual Health Records (IVHR). Fingerhut hired Wisam Rizk, a consultant and chief technology officer at IVHR, who conjured up a way to launder the fraudulent take from Cleveland Clinic, in a fictitious company, called iStarFZE LLC. Rizk paid Fingerhut hush money from time to time, adding up to nearly $469,000 between August 2012 and November 2014. During that time, Fingerhut, Rizk and others stole more than $2.7 million from the clinic.

Cleveland Clinic fired Fingerhut in 2015. Rizk has pleaded guilty and is awaiting his sentence, according to DOJ.

THE BIGGER PICTURE
The Justice department is committed to prosecute healthcare fraud, according to the DOJ's Criminal Division, Fraud Section's Health Care Fraud Unit, which is comprised of 55 prosecutors "whose core mission is to prosecute health care fraud-related cases involving patient harm or large financial loss to the public."

The DOJ's fraud strike force brings together resources from the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Center for Program Integrity, and other agencies along with the prosecutorial resources of U.S. Attorney's Offices and state and local law enforcement partners. 

ON THE RECORD

"Because the HCF Unit's attorneys work full-time on HCF cases, we have become experts in prosecuting HCF-related offenses and are well-equipped to pursue significant cases involving medical professionals; wide-ranging, complicated fraud schemes; and the illegal distribution of opioids," according to the DOJ. 

Diana Manos is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance writer specializing in healthcare, wellness and technology. 

Twitter: @Diana_Manos

Email the writer: dnewsprovider@gmail.com

Healthcare Finance is a HIMSS Media publication.

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