WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- A Florida doctor whose friendship with Sen. Robert Menendez, R-N.J., was at the center of corruption charges against the senator, was indicted Tuesday for alleged Medicare fraud.
Salomon Melgen, 61, of North Palm Beach, Fla., was charged with with 46 counts of health care fraud, 19 counts of making, presenting and filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, and 11 counts of making false statements relating to health care.
The ophthalmologist is accused of submitting false claims and creating fraudulent entries on patients' medical charts between 2004 and 2013.
"Based upon the false diagnoses, the defendant would allegedly perform and bill for medically unreasonable and unnecessary tests and procedures, which included unnecessary laser surgeries and eye injections," a news release from the Justice Department said.
Based on those allegedly fraudulent charts, Melgen allegedly billed Medicare more than $190 million and was reimbursed more than $105 million.
"Medicare was created to ensure adequate protection for the senior citizens against the cost of health care and to ensure that they are provided with quality medical services," said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer. "Medical professionals who violate their oath by failing to attend to the health of their patients and who submit falsified billing statements for their own personal gain, jeopardize the viability of government benefit programs. Our office will continue to work with all involved agencies to protect our senior citizens, prosecute those individuals who perpetuate the fraudulent schemes and help preserve precious Medicare dollars for the intended beneficiaries – the poor, sick and elderly."
Melgen is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The ophthalmologist's friendship with Menendez was at the center of an investigation by the FBI into allegations of corruption against the lawmaker.
The senator allegedly received gifts and donations from Melgen in exchange for allegedly advocating on Melgen's behalf when the doctor was accused of overbilling Medicare.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of bribery and fraud.