Feds raid clinic, imaging center

Published 10:27 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

Federal agents stacked boxes ready to haul potential evidence away from two Coal Grove clinics Wednesday.

COAL GROVE — Christy Dailey, of Lesage, W.Va., showed up at of Dr. Peter Tsai’s Coal Grove office Wednesday morning, with plans to talk about her health.

“I just had surgery on my neck,” she explained. This would have been her first visit with Dr. Tsai — would have been, if federal investigators had not gotten there first.

Armed with a search warrant, federal agents and local law enforcement arrived just before 10 a.m. to haul away boxes and boxes of records that will be examined in an ongoing investigation of alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud at both Tsai’s medical office and the adjacent Watkins-Tsai Imaging Center, owned by his parents.

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“From what we’ve been told, Dr. Tsai is No. 1 in the nation in the number of CAT scans he does,” Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said.

Fred Alverson, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the raid involved the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, the U.S Department of Defense Criminal Investigations Service and the Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, as well as the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the Coal Grove Police Department.

While Alverson would not speak specifically about this case, he said generally, “There are red flags that can show up in government health insurance programs that are indications to us of possible improper billing for services not performed or inappropriate billing for services.”

Alverson said evidence obtained in such cases are examined for evidence of fraud. If fraud is found, authorities will pursue criminal charges. He did not know how long the investigation into the local clinics would take.

“Health care fraud cases are usually complex cases,” Alverson said.

No charges have been filed against Tsai or the clinic at this time.

Tsai and a woman arrived at the clinic just after 11 a.m. and he spoke briefly with federal agents before they searched his BMW. He then went into his office. Employees of the clinics were interviewed by federal agents as well.

“Our job is to protect the entire community and we don’t want our tax dollars misspent,” Lawless said.