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Ridgefield Doctor Gets 3 Months In Prison For Health Care Fraud

Dr. David Lester Johnston operated Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield.
Dr. David Lester Johnston operated Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield. Photo Credit: Osteopathic Wellness Center website

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — A 46-year-old osteopathic physician from Ridgefield was sentenced to three months in federal prison for health care fraud.

David Lester Johnston was also sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to three years of supervised release, the first six months of which must be served in home confinement, said Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. attorney for Connecticut.

He also was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $172,950.

Johnston is an osteopathic physician who operates Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield.

On Jan. 16, he pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud several private health insurance companies by submitting claims for evaluation and management services, such as physician office visits, that he did not perform. He also misrepresented the nature of the services that were performed.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Johnston submitted claims for physician office visits that were not performed at all. Instead, the patients received only massages and related services from a massage therapist.

In addition, Johnston falsely described the services rendered and falsely stated that he himself had rendered the services.  The investigation revealed that on several occasions, Johnston was out of the country when the massage therapist was seeing his patients.

In addition, as part of the resolution of this case, Johnston entered into a civil settlement with the government and has agreed to pay $270,528 to settle federal civil claims that he submitted false claims to the Medicare program for office visits, osteopathic manipulative treatment and physical therapy services that were not performed.

Instead, the Medicare patients treated by the massage therapist in Johnston's practice received only massages and related services.

Medicare does not recognize massage therapists as providers and they are not eligible to participate in Medicare program. Johnston billed the Medicare program as if he had provided the services.

As part of the civil settlement, Johnston has been excluded from participating in all federal health care programs for five years.

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