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Paulus makes not guilty plea

Dr. Richard Paulus and his legal team cross Greenup Avenue to the Carl Perkins Federal Building Thursday for Paulus’ arraignment.

Dr. Richard Paulus and his legal team cross Greenup Avenue to the Carl Perkins Federal Building Thursday for Paulus’ arraignment.

A leading cardiologist in the area has pleaded not guilty to 27 federal counts in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky resulting from his work at an Ashland hospital.

Dr. Richard Paulus, 68, made the plea on Thursday morning to one count of health care fraud and 26 counts of willfully and knowingly making false statements.

“From on or about an exact date unknown but at least July 24, 2008, through on or about July 31, 2013, Paulus did devise and intend to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money from federal health care benefit programs by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises,” the indictment states.

Paulus was indicted on Sept. 3 by a Lexington grand jury following his seven-year career with King’s Daughters Medical Center.

“From 2006 to 2012 Medicare paid KDMC in excess of $30,000,000 for in-patient cardiac stent placement performed by Paulus,” the indictment states. “The (Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure) received an anonymous grievance alleging fraud, abuse and negligence by Paulus. “The KBML reviewed the patient medical file referenced in the anonymous complaint, as well as 14 additional patient medical files of Paulus.

“Based upon this review the KBML concluded that Paulus had engaged in conduct ‘which departed from or failed to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice within the Commonwealth of Kentucky’ in regard to all 15 charts reviewed.”

The medical board said what it called “ the prevailing scenario” was patients with chest pain and few risk factors for heart disease would immediately undergo a coronary angiography.

“A number of these cases had trivial-to-mild coronary artery disease, but by report would be said to have severe disease,” the indictment states.

From 2009 to 2011 Paulus received more than $2.5 million annually from KDMC; in 2012 he received $1.7 million and in 2013 it was almost $700,000.

In 2014 Paulus entered into an agreed order of retirement with the medical board and kept his medical license. He agreed to retired indefinitely.

Paulus faces not more than 10 years in prison, $250,000 fine and three years supervised release on the first count. If there was serious bodily injury the sentence would be not more than 20 years in prison.

On the other 26 counts the sentence would be not more than 5 years imprisonment; $250,000 fine; and three years supervised release.