Ex-chiropractor to plead guilty in health care fraud case
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The jailed owner of the Hemorrhoid Relief Centers of Pittsburgh is set to plead guilty today in Columbus, Ohio, to multiple charges in connection with his role as an orchestrator of one of the largest health care fraud cases in the United States.
Markell D. Boulis, 45, a former chiropractor from Collier who ran seminars across the country designed to illegally boost revenue for chiropractic practices, has informed federal authorities that he will enter a plea in two federal cases in Pittsburgh and Columbus.
Federal prosecutors won't comment on pending cases, although they did confirm the anticipated plea.
Mr. Boulis' Texas lawyer couldn't be reached for comment.
Court papers indicate Mr. Boulis and the various corporate entities he controlled will admit to running a complex false billing scheme for hundreds of chiropractors from 1999 through 2003, when he went to jail for cocaine dealing in Cleveland that violated his probation from an old drug case outside Atlanta.
He also has indicated he will plead guilty to tax evasion and health care fraud in connection with his three Hemorrhoid Relief Centers in the region, which he ran with his wife, Angel.
He was indicted in that case in Pittsburgh in February while he continued to negotiate a plea with the U.S. attorney's office in Columbus in the much larger chiropractic scheme.
Before Mr. Boulis went to jail, he had been traveling the country as head of Practice Solutions, which he and Angel ran from the basement of their $600,000 house in the Nevillewood golf course community in Collier.
Much of the business was in Ohio; that's why the federal case developed out of Columbus.
Mr. Boulis patterned his company on Practice Mechanix, a firm he ran in South Florida with a fellow Scientologist, David Gorroway, until the two split in a money dispute in 2001. The men had based their seminars on business models taught by the Church of Scientology.
On his own, investigators said, Mr. Boulis offered chiropractors an $8,000 package of services that promised to increase their collections dramatically by using extra billing codes to charge insurance companies for past treatments, a practice called "back-billing."
Back-billing is sometimes legal, but only to correct previous billing errors for treatments rendered. Mr. Boulis submitted back-bills for every patient in a chiropractor's office, and usually for treatments never provided.
If chiropractors showed an interest, one of Mr. Boulis' dozen consultants, a group that included a suspended chiropractor who had spent time in federal prison, would set them up with another Boulis company, National Insurance Auditors, which handled the extra billings.
Many chiropractors who attended Mr. Boulis' seminars were eager to sign up. At least one has pleaded guilty in Columbus, as has a medical supply company owner who made presentations at the Practice Solutions seminars.
Among the defrauded health insurance providers was the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.
In 2002, about a year before he went to jail on the cocaine charge, Mr. Boulis opened the hemorrhoid clinics specializing in laser treatment.
The medical service itself was legitimate, according to authorities, but Mr. Boulis continued to commit fraud by making fake insurance claims to Medicare and not paying his income taxes.
First Published April 7, 2006 12:00 am