BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An Anne Arundel County doctor is one of 18 people indicted in a nationwide crackdown on COVID-19 related fraud, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Dr. Ron Elfenbein, a 47-year-old man from Arnold, is accused of submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other insurers for patients who received COVID-19 tests at sites his company operated in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties.

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Elfenbein allegedly instructed his employees at Drs ERgent Care, LLC. to bill for “moderately complex office visits” on top of COVID-19 tests, meaning insurers were being billed for 30 to 59 minute-long visits for what were, in reality, five-minute visits.

The indictment also alleges Elfenbein, through Drs ERgent Care, caused the submission of claims totaling more than $1.5 million to Medicare and other insurers for “office visits that were not provided as represented and were ineligible for reimbursement.”

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“It is unconscionable that this defendant sought to line his own pockets during a global pandemic by grossly overbilling Medicare and other insurers for these vital healthcare services during a time of national crisis,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski.  “If the allegations against Dr. Elfenbein and the 17 others that were charged today are proven, they should be ashamed of their conduct and will be held accountable for their criminal actions.”

Elfenbein owns and operates d/b/a First Call Medical Center and Chesapeake ERgent Care, the indictment states. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for each of the three counts of healthcare fraud.

The Department of Justice also announced the criminal charges of 17 more defendants across the country involving health care services that exploited the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in over $149 million in COVID-19 related false billings to federal programs and theft from pandemic assistance programs.

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The department seized over $8 million in cash and other fraud proceeds in connection with law enforcement action across the country, officials said.

CBS Baltimore Staff