Newark, New Jersey - A Toms River, New Jersey physician pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a $13 million health care fraud scheme, which previously resulted in charges in April 2019 against 23 other defendants in one of the largest health care fraud cases investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the District of New Jersey, Assistant Director Robert Johnson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Gary Cantrell of HHS-OIG and Deputy Administrator and Director Alec Alexander of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Center for Program Integrity (CMS/CPI) made the announcement.

Joseph DeCorso, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan of the District of New Jersey.  DeCorso’s sentencing is set for Jan. 8, 2020, before Judge Sheridan.

In pleading guilty, DeCorso admitted that he worked for two purported telemedicine companies for which he wrote medically unnecessary orders for orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries between July 2017 and March 2019.  He admitted that his conduct resulted in a $13 million intended loss to Medicare.  In connection with his plea agreement, DeCorso agreed to pay over $7 million in restitution to the United States, as well as forfeit assets and property traceable to proceeds of the conspiracy.  

DeCorso admitted that in the course of the scheme, an international telemarketing network lured hundreds of thousands of elderly or disabled Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme, which involved call centers throughout the world, which then sent the beneficiaries’ information to several telemedicine companies.  DeCorso further admitted that he wrote brace orders for the telemedicine companies without speaking to the beneficiaries and that he concealed the fraud with falsified orders that stated, among other things, that he had “discussions” or “conversations” with beneficiaries or had conducted diagnostic testing for benficiaries, when, in fact, DeCorso had not spoken to beneficiaries and had not conducted diagnostic testing on beneficiaries in connection with the ordering of orthotic braces.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Newark Field Office and HHS-OIG.  Acting Assistant Chief Jacob Foster and Trial Attorney Darren Halverson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Any doctors or medical professionals who have been involved with alleged fraudulent telemedicine and DME marketing schemes should call to report this conduct to the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI.