March 18, 2021 / By Kevin Krause
Updated with the remaining sentencings
They were talented and successful surgeons who helped pioneer innovative techniques that cut the risk of infection and sped up recovery.
But former Dallas spine surgeons and business partners Michael Rimlawi and Douglas Won are going to federal prison for receiving millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from the now-defunct Forest Park Medical Center.
Rimlawi, 49, was sentenced Thursday to seven and a half years, and Won, 49, received five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary also ordered almost $30 million in restitution in their cases.
The sentencings of the pair and others this week, which concluded Friday, signal the end of a major medical kickback case that began in 2016 and involved multiple defendants including surgeons, other physicians and hospital administrators. Seven of nine defendants, including four doctors, were convicted at trial in 2019 for their roles in the $40 million bribery and kickback scheme involving Forest Park, which illegally paid for surgeries to boost its bottom line before shutting down.
Prosecutors said the surgeons agreed to refer patients to the Dallas hospital in exchange for money to market their practices. That advertising revenue helped some of the doctors grow their practices considerably. Patients were a valuable commodity sold to the highest bidder, according to the government. The more surgeries doctors could bring to Forest Park, the more money they could earn.