Doc pleads guilty to power chair fraud

Sunday, June 27, 2004

June 28, 2004

CHULA VISTA, Calif - A doctor here pleaded guilty last week in San Diego federal court to defrauding the government of more than $730,000 by signing false requests for Medicare and Medi-Cal to pay for power wheelchairs.
Romulo Valdez, who graduated from medical school in the Philippines nearly 50 years ago, allowed his license to expire in February without paying his fees, according to the Medical Board of California's Web site.
He faces as much as five years in federal prison at sentencing Sept. 10, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
In court papers, the U.S. Attorney's Office claimed Valdez conspired with Benison Medical Supply Inc. in Chula Vista and a worker at Benison, Renato Paulin.
Paulin, through Benison, was paid nearly $1 million for power wheelchairs for 290 people who didn't need them, government lawyers said in court papers.
Valdez, who worked out of his home and made house calls, signed the required forms, lawyers said.
They said Paulin also submitted 5,688 false equipment claims for which he was paid $2.4 million.
Paulin's bank accounts were frozen at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office last year. Neither he nor Benison have been charged, but lawyers said in a court filing this month that an indictment or a plea bargain is expected by the end of summer.