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Lake Ozark psychologist pleads guilty to $1 million health care fraud

A Lake Ozark psychologist practicing in the Lebanon, Mo., area pleaded guilty in federal court, Thursday, to engaging in a $1 million scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.

Rhett E. McCarty, 67, pleaded guilty to health care fraud and to forgery.

McCarty is a licensed psychologist and private practitioner who provided psychotherapy services to recipients of both Medicare and Medicaid in their homes in the Lebanon area.

Between Sept. 17, 2008, and April 5, 2012, McCarty submitted Medicare and Medicaid claims for daily or near daily psychotherapy services to 19 beneficiaries for which he was paid $1,276,334.

Although McCarty did provide some services for most of these beneficiaries, he admitted that he did not see those beneficiaries more than once a week.

McCarty also admitted that, based on an estimate of the services he did provide, the amount he was paid by Medicare and Medicaid for services he did not provide to these 19 beneficiaries was $1 million.

McCarty also admitted that he forged, or caused another person to forge, the signatures of five of the beneficiaries on patient sign-in sheets in order to obtain $418,507 in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

By pleading guilty, McCarty must forfeit to the government $1 million, which represents the proceeds of the fraud scheme.

Under federal statutes, McCarty is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

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