A federal grand jury in Oxford, Mississippi, returned an indictment that was unsealed Tuesday, charging a Mississippi podiatrist with a scheme to defraud Medicare and other health care benefit programs by prescribing unnecessary medications and tests in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.
According to court documents, Carey “Craig” Williams, 63, of Water Valley, owned and operated a podiatry clinic, North Mississippi Foot Specialists P.C., as well as an in-house pharmacy.
The indictment alleges that Williams regularly prescribed antibiotic and antifungal drugs to be mixed into a tub of warm water for patients to soak their feet.
These drug cocktails often included capsules and creams that were not medically indicated to be dissolved in water and were often chosen based on their anticipated reimbursement amount rather than on medical necessity.
The indictment also alleges that Williams ordered medically unnecessary molecular diagnostic testing to be performed on his patients’ toenail clippings, including testing for the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease,” which is unlikely to be found in a toenail.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Williams solicited and received cash kickbacks from a marketer in exchange for referring prescriptions for foot bath medications and referring biological specimens and testing orders to pharmacies and laboratories.
Between approximately July 2016 and July 2021, Williams allegedly caused pharmacies to submit over $4.9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for dispensing expensive foot bath medications that were not medically necessary.
Between approximately January 2018 and April 2021, Williams also allegedly caused a diagnostic laboratory to submit more than $6.4 million in false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary molecular diagnostic testing.
Williams is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud; seven counts of health care fraud; one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to offer, pay, solicit, and receive kickbacks; and two counts of soliciting and receiving kickbacks.
He made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.
If convicted, Williams faces a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud; 10 years of imprisonment per health care fraud count; five years of imprisonment for the kickback conspiracy count; and five years of imprisonment per count of soliciting and receiving kickbacks.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.