PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daniel Miller, Deputy Attorney General
Director, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit
Phone: (302) 577-8859
Date: May 26, 2004
PHYSICIAN AND WIFE PLEAD GUILTY TO FALSIFYING RECORDS
Improper Billing of Medicaid/Medicare Alleged
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General Jane Brady today announced that Edward Dale Latonn, M.D. and his wife, Janice Latonn, each pled guilty this morning in New Castle County Superior Court to one misdemeanor count of Falsifying Business Records. The charges were brought as a result of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s (MFCU) investigation into the practice’s billing records for the period of March 11, 2000 through April 8, 2002. The investigation revealed that Dr. Latonn’s medical practice repeatedly and improperly billed Medicaid and Medicare. The couple admitted that, “with intent to defraud, [they] did make or cause false entries in the business records of an enterprise, to wit, the medical practice of E. Dale Latonn, M.D., 2601 Annand Drive, Suite 3, Wilmington, DE 19808.”
While the Medicaid and Medicare programs pay for the cost of office visits with physicians, the programs generally do not pay for low level laser therapy or massage therapy. The MFCU’s investigation uncovered that on scores of occasions, Latonn’s practice billed for an office visit with the physician when, in fact, the patient had only received laser therapy performed by Mrs. Latonn or another member of the staff or received massage therapy by a massage therapist.
Attorney General Jane Brady said, “This kind of deception makes medical care more costly for everyone. My office has proposed legislation, to be sponsored by Senator Marshall and Representative Maier, to amend Title 31, Section 1008 of the Delaware Code to allow the Department of Justice to bring civil actions to recover treble damages in cases of fraudulent acts like this. This conduct costs the State money.”
Both Dr. and Mrs. Latonn were sentenced to one year of probation. They were also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution and costs of the investigation. A referral will be made by the MFCU to the federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) so that the OIG can determine whether Dr. Latonn can continue to participate in government health care benefit programs. A referral will also be made to the Delaware Office of Professional Regulation to determine whether today’s court actions will effect Dr. Latonn’s medical license.