Orthopedic Surgeon Convicted in Tax Fraud In United States


Dr. David van Haler, a medical doctor and orthopedic surgeon, was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the largest tax fraud scheme of its kind ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dr. van Haler, who pled guilty to mail fraud on March 3, 2018, had been charged with intentionally submitting false claims to Medicare totaling nearly $7 million during a seven-year period between 2009 and 2016. Dr. van Haler was also ordered to pay over $6 million in restitution to the IRS after signing a plea agreement with federal prosecutors last fall.

In a statement made by federal investigators, Dr. van Haler’s fraudulent billing practices were specifically tied to the prescriptions of controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, among other drugs. In the plea agreement, the 61-year-old doctor admitted that he acted with a co-defendant to submit claims for a known and unspecified controlled substance when he had, in fact, prescribed a non-controlled, FDA-approved medication.

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The U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Dr. van Haler showed that he regularly prescribed opioids for patients who had been recently treated with arthroscopic surgery to their knees and hips by him, even though they did not indicate the need for opioids in their follow up care. His scheme was uncovered in September 2016 when a routine Medicare audit occurred and found that his practice was prescribing controlled substances to patients who did not have a qualifying medical condition.

In addition to his prison sentence, Dr. van Haler also has been ordered to serve three years of supervised release that will include restrictions for prescribing controlled substances. The doctor will also have to operate a practice that complies with the Medicare guidelines that are meant to prevent excessive or inappropriate prescriber behavior.

Dr. van Haler was one of over 400 people convicted in connection with the federal government’s investigation into opioid addiction and fraud, which led to charges filed against over 600 medical professionals and the closure of over 50 pill mills.

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