A traveling podiatrist based in the Detroit suburb of Fenton, Mich. was sentenced Monday to 55 months in prison after admitting to running a scam that falsely billed Medicare and an insurance company for services he did not provide.

In addition to the jail time, Richard Alan Behnan will pay some $1.6 million in restitution to Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for the scheme that ran for six years.

The Justice Department said that Behnan would bill Medicare and the insurance company for a surgical procedure called nail avulsion. But an investigation by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that Dr. Behnan did little more than trim the toenail of his patients, mostly senior citizens.

Behnan pleaded guilty in November to charges stemming from the investigation. His assistant, Kelly Morel, pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The story is eerily similar to another one from the Detroit area. In March 2012, another podiatrist, Dr. Errol Sherman, was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution for defrauding Medicare. Like Behnan, Sherman was billing Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for nail avulsion, but did not actually perform the surgical procedures.

In addition to the year in prison, Sherman was given three years of supervised release.


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