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Houston psychiatrist sentenced 12 years for $158 million Medicaid fraud

Sharon Iglehart was also ordered to pay more than $6 million in restitution, Department of Justice says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Sharon Iglehart, a former attending psychiatrist at Riverside General Hospital in Houston, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for her role in a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme involving false claims for mental health treatment. A judge also ordered her to pay $6.4 million in restitution.

[Also: Running list of notable 2016 healthcare frauds]

In September, a jury convicted Iglehart of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and making false statements pertaining to healthcare matters.

Evidence presented at trial showed the scheme ran from 2006 until June 2012. Iglehart and others submitted roughly $158 million in false claims through Riverside for partial hospitalization program services, which is an intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness. Evidence showed those beneficiaries never received those services and most of the Medicare beneficiaries rarely even saw a psychiatrist or received any intensive psychiatric treatment at all, the DOJ said.

Additionally, the Justice Department said Iglehart personally billed Medicare for individual psychotherapy and other treatment that she never provided, as well as falsified the medical records of patients at Riverside's inpatient facility to make it look as though she provided psychiatric treatment when she did not.

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12 others have been convicted for roles in this scheme, including the former president of Riverside. Some sentences were as much as 45 years in prison.

The DOJ has recovered nearly $2 billion tied to healthcare fraud in 2015 and nearly $17 billion since January 2009.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn