LOS ANGELES – An orthopedic surgeon is charged as the ringleader in one of California’s biggest health fraud schemes, which included unnecessary operations by an untrained assistant that scarred patients forever, according to indictments unsealed Tuesday.
Dr. Munir Uwaydah and 14 associates, including another doctor and a lawyer, bilked insurance companies out of $150 million in the scheme, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. 48 Hours’ Crimesider first reported the fraud indictment Tuesday.
Nearly two dozen patients were told Uwaydah would perform surgery on them, only to have his physician’s assistant – who had not attended medical school – operate once they were under anesthesia, according to the indictment. Uwaydah allegedly wasn’t present for the surgeries.
“All 21 patients sustained lasting scars and many required additional surgeries and suffered physical and psychological trauma as a result of their experience in Uwaydah’s clinics,” prosecutors said in a news release.