Psychologist Julian Metter gets five months prison for Medicare fraud
February 28, 2011
WILLIAMSPORT — A State College man was sentenced to five months in prison Thursday for fraudulently billing Medicare.
Julian Metter, 58, collapsed in front of the bench while U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III was explaining the reason for the sentence he was about to impose.
Following a short recess, the hearing continued with Metter in a chair.
The jail sentence will be followed by two years supervised release, including home confinement with electronic monitoring for the first five months.
Jones told Metter he must also make restitution of $13,423. Still to be determined is whether $4,423 Metter paid in 2007 should be applied to that sum. He paid the remaining $9,000 Thursday.
Jones tentatively set an April 15 hearing to resolve the issue if the prosecution and defense are unable to do so in the next 30 days.
The sentence included a prohibition of Metter again applying for a license as a psychologist in Pennsylvania. Jones noted Metter, who remains free until he reports to prison on April 4, had agreed to that when he surrendered his license.
Metter pleaded guilty in June 2009 to a charge of making false statements in making claims for health care services between October 2002 and October 2005.
“I am guilty and accept responsibility,” he told Senior Judge Malcolm Muir at that time.
During a lengthy statement he read Thursday, Metter told Jones, “I treated billing less important than clinical work.” He claimed that was very immature on his part. Paperwork never has been his strong suit, and he realizes he should have sought professional billing help, he said.
Metter admitted he broke the law by submitting hundreds of claims for payments for seeing patients on days he was not in Centre County. He said a trained assistant saw patients on those days.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne P. Samuelson, who argued for a sentence of about 17 months in prison, countered that the case was not just bad billing, but “a fraudulent scheme.” Metter used patients he claimed he was helping to further his billing scheme, the prosecutor charged.
They were not read in court but Samuelson said he had letters from other psychologists questioning Metter’s treatment methods.
Metter is facing a civil lawsuit from a patient who said he emotionally and physically traumatized her by drugging her with carbon dioxide and questioning her while she was unconscious.
Trial in the case is scheduled for this summer, said the woman’s attorney, Bernard Cantorna.
Regarding the false claims Metter submitted to Medicare, Jones said he found it was a pattern, and not simply an act of immaturity.
“You were tapping the golden goose here, and you benefited substantially,” the judge said.
Metter collapsed shortly after Jones told him his treatments did not make sense to him but then added that is not his profession.
Metter, who had been in practice for 20 years, had closed his office prior to pleading guilty.
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