Sarasota, Florida dermatologist Michael A. Rosin will be spending the next 22 years in prison for performing unnecessary surgeries on a host of elderly patients and then making fraudulent claims to con Medicare into paying for it. His former office manager and a former patient will be sharing a hefty compensation award for their role in helping to send him there.
When Ellen Murray, a patient, got the feeling that the doctor seemed a little knife-happy, she discussed her suspicions with Carolyn Ferrara, Rosin’s office manager. Seven times, Rosin subjected Murray to surgery for skin lesions that experts later found were not cancerous. Murray took her complaints to the federal Medicare fraud unit and to Florida’s Department of Health, but neither took any action. So Murray and Ferrara decided to put a stop to Rosin’s surgical scams by suing him under the federal False Claims Act. The statute offers a financial incentive of 15 percent to 30 percent to whistleblowers who provide information about people or companies suspected of cheating the government.
In 2004, the two women filed the whistleblower lawsuit that ultimately sent Rosin to prison for 22 years. Now, the U.S. Justice Department has awarded Ferrara and Murray their share of the amount that Rosin has paid in restitution so far.
After Murray and Ferrara filed their lawsuit, a federal investigation revealed that as part of Rosin’s racket, he put at least 13 patients under the knife 20 or more times and subjected one patient to 122 operations. For a time, Rosin was one of just two Sarasota dermatologists performing Mohs surgery, in which layers of tissue are surgically cut out until all of the cancer is removed. Since Medicare paid by the layer, Rosin maximized his reimbursements by typically removing four layers. Sometimes, Rosin made a cancer diagnosis without even looking at the tissue. Other times, he diagnosed cancer in samples of bubble gum or Styrofoam given to him by his employees as a test after they became suspicious. In 2005, Rosin was indicted and convicted a year later by a Tampa jury on 35 counts each of Medicare fraud and of making false statements.
Although Rosin now spends his nights in a Miami low-security prison, he still owns a Sarasota waterfront home valued at more than $2.2 million. He reportedly has reached out of court settlements with several former patients.
Read the full story from the St. Petersburg Times.