On May 25, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Vasso Godiali, a Michigan vascular surgeon, was sentenced to 6.5 years (80 months) in prison following a plea agreement. Dr. Godiali pled guilty to defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers by submitting claims for placing vascular stents and for thrombectomies he did not perform or that were medically unnecessary.
According to the government and the settlement agreement, Dr. Godiali’s activities allegedly involved falsely diagnosing patients with peripheral artery disease and performing unnecessary procedures, including angiograms, stent placements, and bypass surgeries related to the improper diagnosis. Some of the allegedly unnecessary activities were carried out under the guise of unscrupulous medical documentation. For example, the settlement agreement notes that “to justify the placement of multiple stents into a single vessel, medical records prepared by Dr. Godiali would typically describe encountering a fractured stent inside the vessel and removing the stent through an introducer sheath with forceps.” This medical documentation was inaccurate, according to the government.
Dr. Godiali’s medical records also included, at times, false statements relating to the performance of thrombectomies. According to the settlement agreement, Dr. Godiali documented observing occluded brachial arteries requiring thrombectomies. However, not every documented occurrence was actually observed and some thrombectomies were not necessary nor performed, despite claims for the procedures being submitted to payors. In addition to the alleged documentation issues and medically unnecessary procedures, the government also alleged that Dr. Godiali improperly unbundled services that should have been billed together in a single claim.
The settlement agreement details Dr. Godiali’s agreement to forfeit various assets acquired through his fraudulent activities. These assets include real estate properties, luxury vehicles, and significant sums of money held in various bank accounts. Beyond being sentenced to 80 months in prison and the forfeiture requirements, Dr. Godiali must also pay $19.5 million in restitution collectively to Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). He must also pay the federal government up to $43,419,000 to resolve related civil allegations that activities violated the False Claims Act.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection to health care fraud and False Claims Act litigation. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.