One of Medicare's most-wanted fugitives is arrested in L.A.
BY CHAD TERHUNE
One of Medicare's most-wanted fugitives, a former clinic owner in the Los Angeles area, was arrested on his return from South Korea, authorities said.
Federal investigators said Won Suk Lee, 44, was taken into custody Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport.
Authorities said Lee was an acupuncturist and owner of two medical clinics in Huntington Park who billed Medicare for $2.1 million in false claims and got paid about $1.2 million.
“Since launching our most wanted list in February 2011, we’ve caught 41 fugitives,” said Steve Ryan, assistant special agent in charge in Los Angeles for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general. “Our Office of Inspector General fugitive operations are worldwide, with one of our senior agents stationed full time at Interpol to coordinate international investigations.”
Lee fled to South Korea after an arrest warrant was issued last year, according to Ryan. From 2009 to 2011, he said, Lee used a physical therapy clinic as a front to bill for services, such as acupuncture and massage, that are not covered by Medicare.
Lee couldn't be reached for comment.
There are still about 170 fugitives on the Medicare most-wanted list.
Federal officials have been trying to crack down on fraud and abuse in Medicare and other public healthcare programs to recover some of the billions of dollars lost annually.
To better combat fraud, the government has established special strike force teams in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and Houston.