A Florida ophthalmologist was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week for cheating Medicare out of nearly $10 million by intentionally misdiagnosing patients and then giving them phony laser treatments.
David Ming Pon, M.D., was sentenced in a federal district court in Jacksonville, Florida, according to Medscape. However, federal prosecutors and other doctors had recommended greater prison time because of his treatment of more than 500 elderly patients. Pon falsely told the patients they had wet age-related macular degeneration and that they would go blind without laser treatment. He then faked the treatments and billed Medicare.
Federal prosecutors had sought at least 40 years in prison for Pon, 59, and described his behavior as “evil.” Two eye surgeons who testified at Pon’s trial as expert witnesses for the government were so disturbed by what he did that they asked the judge to go hard on Pon, Medscape said.
A federal jury found Pon guilty back in 2015 of 20 counts of healthcare fraud, but his sentencing hearing was not scheduled until this month. Prosecutors said he falsely diagnosed patients and then billed Medicare for unnecessary tests and unwarranted laser treatments.
In a legal brief recommending Pon’s sentence, prosecutors said 40 years in prison would be lenient given how Pon lied to patients about the threat of blindness, Medscape reported.
"The level of depravity Pon exhibited to fuel his own greed shows a complete lack of character and empathy for others. Pon's conduct can only be described as evil,” they wrote. Pon’s attorneys argued for leniency and wrote that his case has sent a strong message of deterrence to the community.