FAYETTEVILLE – A Louisiana doctor pleaded guilty on Friday to workers’ compensation fraud related to collecting bribes from an Arkansas company.
Robert Dale Bernauer Sr., 74, waived a grand jury charge and pleaded guilty to a criminal information accusing him of conspiring to violate five federal laws. According to court documents, Bernauer, an orthopedic surgeon and clinician who practiced in Lake Charles, made more than $ 1 million with the program between 2011 and 2017.
Bernauer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, healthcare fraud, fraud to obtain compensation from federal employees, and illegal pay and bribes wine, all as part of a scheme to defraud the US government and private insurance companies by overcharging unnecessary drugs provided to workers’ compensation patients.
According to court documents, an Arkansas company recruited Bernauer to distribute pain creams and patches to workers ‘compensation patients by offering him a 50% share of the profits from insurers’ billing. The company charged insurers 15 to 20 times the actual cost of the drugs.
Court documents indicate that Bernauer was not the only doctor involved in the program. The total financial loss to workers’ compensation insurers is not listed. But Bernauer counted for a loss of around $ 2 million.
In his plea deal, Bernauer agreed to pay more than $ 664,000 directly to the Department of Labor within 30 days and another $ 361,096 to the court registry.
Bernauer will face an additional restitution order of over $ 1 million as a shared obligation with one of his co-conspirators who could be convicted later.
Following his guilty plea to the single count of conspiracy, Bernauer faces a maximum of five years in prison. The court will determine his sentence at a later date.