Indian American Surgeon Sentenced To 5 Years For $3.3 Million Bribe

US District Judge gave Dr. Lokesh S. Tantuwaya, 55, of San Diego, California, a 5-year imprisonment as well as a $3.3 million forfeiture order.

An Indian-American neurosurgeon has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for accepting approximately $3.3 million in bribes for performing spinal surgeries.

An American doctor of Indian descent who accepted $3.3 million in illicit payments to conduct spinal surgery at a fraudulent hospital was given a 5-year prison sentence, according to the United States Department of Justice.

Dr. Lokesh S. Tantuwaya, a 55-year-old neurosurgeon from San Diego, California, operated on patients at a defunct hospital in Long Beach. The proprietor of the hospital was imprisoned for his part in a massive workers' compensation fraud.

According to a release by the United States Department of Justice, Dr Tantuwaya pleaded guilty on September 1 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud and to receive illegal payments for health care referrals. He has been in federal custody since May 2021 after he was found to have violated the terms of his pretrial release.

"From 2010 to 2013, Dr Tantuwaya accepted money from Michael Drobot, who owned Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, in exchange for Dr Tantuwaya performing spinal surgeries at that hospital. The bribe amount varied depending on the type of spinal surgery."

Pacific Hospital owner Michael Drobot, who in 2018 was sentenced to 63 months in prison for his crimes in this scheme, conspired with doctors, chiropractors, and marketers to pay kickbacks and bribes in return for the referral of thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other medical services paid for primarily through the California workers' compensation system.

During its final five years, the scheme resulted in the submission of more than $500 million in medical bills for spine surgeries involving kickbacks.