United States Attorney’s Office – Western District of Arkansas, July 30, 2021
Took Kickbacks from Arkansas Company
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A Lake Charles, La., physician pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, fraud to obtain federal employees’ compensation, and illegal remunerations (taking kickbacks), in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. government and private insurance companies by over-billing for unnecessary medications provided to workers’ compensation patients.
U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the plea hearing, in which Robert Dale Bernauer, Sr., 74, waived indictment by a grand jury and pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to violate five different federal statutes. According to court documents, Bernauer, an orthopedic surgeon and clinician who practiced in Louisiana, made more than $1,000,000 off of the scheme, which ran from 2011 until 2017 and defrauded both federal and private workers’ compensation insurers.
Court documents allege that the basic premise of the scheme was that individuals associated with an Arkansas company recruited Bernauer to dispense pain creams and patches to his workers’ compensation patients by offering him a 50 percent split of the profits collected from successfully billing insurers. The company billed insurers at markups of anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 percent—in other words, 15 to 20 times what the medications actually cost. The unnamed company acted as the billing agent for Bernauer, handling all of the paperwork and submitting the allegedly fraudulent claims to both the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, which covers all federal employees, and to private insurers as well.