JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (KT) – A Louisville physician was sentenced at U.S. District Court in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive unlawful kickbacks, involving the federal Medicare program.

John Baird, 55, received five years of probation, including two years of home detention.  He was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $567,609.36 to Medicare.

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According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Baird admitted during a 2018 plea hearing, that while practicing as a licensed physician specializing in physical medicine, rehabilitation, and pain treatment, he entered into an illegal kickbacks-for-referrals conspiracy with Williams Hughes, the owner and operator of Universal Oral Fluid Labs, a clinical drug-testing laboratory in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Under their arrangement, Baird received cash payments in exchange for referring patients—including patients covered under Medicare—to the lab for drug testing services.  Hughes then submitted and received reimbursements from Medicare for drug testing services for patients referred to the lab by Baird.

As enrolled Medicare providers, Baird and the lab were required to certify that they would comply with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations, including the federal anti-kickback prohibition.  Baird also admitted that between May 2012 and July 2013, he received $567,609.36 in kickbacks from Universal Oral Fluid Labs for his drug testing referrals.   

Hughes separately pleaded guilty for conspiring to offer and pay kickbacks in connection with Medicaid referrals made by another Kentucky physician, and on July 13, 2021, was sentenced to 60 days in prison, followed by twelve months of home detention.  Hughes was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, forfeit more than $750,000 in previously seized assets, and make restitution totaling $1,670,469.77 to the Kentucky Medicaid Program.

The FBI, U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Baird.

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