Southern California Doctor Sentenced to Two Years Over Kickbacks

Dr. Timothy J. Hunt has been ordered to serve two years in federal prison and will forfeit $3 million after admitting to taking over $1.5 million in illegal kickbacks from Pacific Hospital of Long Beach over a five year period.  The scheme saw Dr. Hunt, an orthopedic surgeon who owned Allied Medical Group, referring spinal surgery candidates from his Lawndale and Long Beach clinics to Pacific Hospital and Dr. Daniel Capen. The conspiracy involved Michael D. Drobot, owner of Pacific Hospital, and others, including Drobot’s son Michael R. Drobot, who paid additional kickbacks for toxicology screenings ordered through Pacific Hospital and other Drobot-controlled entities.

According to the plea agreement, “Between 2008 and February 2013, defendant Hunt referred kickback-tainted surgeries and services accounting for at least approximately $16 million of the total amount Pacific Hospital billed to health care benefit programs, for which Drobot, UCC-A and other co-conspirators, through Pacific Hospital and affiliated entities, paid defendant, through Allied Medical, in excess of $1.5 million in illegal kickbacks.”

An unidentified co-conspirator appears to be Faustino Bernadett, a retired physician who held a majority stake in Pacific Hospital from 2005 through October 2010. In June, he pleaded guilty of to helping conceal kickbacks, and was ordered to forfeit $1 million. He will appear for a sentencing hearing on Jan. 17. Dr. Capen pleaded guilty in June 2018, and will be sentenced on Nov. 22. The elder and younger Drobots pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kickback charges in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and are currently serving 63- and 41-month prison sentences.