State: Jail psychiatrist billed for unnecessary treatment at 2nd job
December 10, 2010
By Jeff Weiner
Court records show a psychiatrist who saw patients at Orange County Jail before his arrest last week is accused of ripping off an insurance company by billing for unnecessary treatment.
Dr. Arturo Hernandez-Pena, 52, was arrested while working at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 1. Records show he was told the day after his arrest that he was out of his county job.
Hernandez-Pena was an employee of the Orange County Department of Health and Human Services who works at the jail. The county cited “misconduct” as the reason for his termination.
Court records show Hernandez-Pena’s arrest stemmed from treatment he provided outside his jail job, at a business referred to in court documents as Orlando Physical Therapy. Representatives of the business could not be located Friday night for comment.
State prosecutors say Hernandez-Pena, 52, and others at the therapy center conspired to overcharge an insurance provider for treatment of a patient.
Attempts to reach Hernandez-Pena by phone on Friday were unsuccessful. He did not respond to an email seeking comment. A woman who answered the door at the apartment listed as his home address in court documents said he did not live there.
Court records show investigators interviewed a patient, who said she went to the center for treatment after slamming her pinky finger in a car door.
The woman reportedly told state investigators that during her sole meeting with Hernandez-Pena he “intimidated her to tell him what level of pain she was having on her back.”
The patient told investigators she told Hernandez-Pena she was not suffering from back pain and had not suffered a back injury. However, she was later told by her insurance provider that she had been billed by the center for treatment for neck and back injuries.
The woman said she was told to sign several blank forms during her visit to Orlando Physical Therapy, which investigators said were filled in later.
Some of the documents indicated that she had been in a motor vehicle accident; the woman told investigators that she was not in an accident and never claimed she was. Court documents state that Hernandez-Pena also was uncooperative with investigators.
A letter sent to Hernandez-Pena the day after his arrest said that he had violated provisions of his employment, including “conduct damaging to the reputation of the County.”
The letter also noted that Hernandez-Pena had failed to submit written notification of his outside employment to the Corrections Health Services Manager, as required by policy.
Hernandez-Pena was charged with violating patient brokering law, scheming to defraud, third-degree grand theft and false and fraudulent insurance claims, records show, and was released from the jail after posting $6,000 bail on the afternoon of his arrest.
State records show Hernandez-Pena is licensed to practice in Florida, and has no patient complaints on his record. He had been employed by the county since January 2002.
Records show he does not have malpractice insurance in the state — which would be typical of a government-employed physician. State law requires that doctors practicing privately have malpractice insurance, though there are exceptions.