Atlanta doctor going to prison for Medicare, IRS fraud

An Atlanta doctor was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison Thursday for health care fraud, tax fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Lawrence Eppelbaum, 54, of Roswell, was given 50 months behind bars and fined $3.5 million for the scheme. He was indicted in June 2011 for allegedly bilking Medicare and the IRS of about $16 million over five years. He was convicted on 27 charges in June 2013.

“The defendant cheated both (the Medicare and tax) systems by illegally enticing his patients with gifts and then evading paying taxes on the substantial income he earned from treating those patients,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a news release. “His choice to practice fraud along with medicine has earned him substantial time in federal prison.”

Eppelbaum operates the “Atlanta Institute of Medicine and Rehabilitation” and the “Pain Clinic of AIMR” in Atlanta, authorities said.

Prosecutors said he devised a scheme in which he illegally induced Medicare patients from all over the nation to be treated at his clinic by providing free travel accommodations through his own bogus charity, the “Back Pain Fund,” which he created in 2004. He attempted to hide his control over the fund by funneling money through a school in Atlanta and other organizations.

Between 2004 and 2009, he treated hundreds of patients and received millions of dollars from Medicare. Prosecutors said he also evaded about $1 million in federal income taxes between 2006 and 2008 by deducting as charitable donations all the payments he made to the fund, the school and other organizations.

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