January 9, 2013 - 2:28 pm
Medical supplier Anil Mathur spent the past year aggressively fighting a federal kickback indictment against him.
His team of seasoned defense attorneys, which included a couple of former federal prosecutors, filed a barrage of court motions attacking the government and the Las Vegas physician who wore a wire for the FBI to ensnare Mathur in a two-year undercover sting
But on Tuesday, months after a federal magistrate tossed out his claims of government misconduct and refused to dismiss the indictment, Mathur abruptly ended his fight.
With a new lawyer at his side, the 68-year-old Mathur pleaded guilty in federal court to a single felony count of offering and paying remuneration. Eight other kickback charges against him were ordered dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du accepted Mathur’s plea and set an April 15 sentencing.
After Du asked Mathur how he wanted to plead, Mathur responded, “I plead guilty. I just want to get it over with.”
Afterward, Mathur and his new attorney, Thomas Pitaro, declined comment.
Mathur, who owns United Medical Supplies, admitted in his plea agreement that he paid $26,150 in “bribes” to the physician between December 2008 and December 2010 to obtain Medicare business.
In all, according to the agreement, Mathur made nine payments, varying from $1,500 to $5,150, to the doctor to steer business his way. Mathur sold oxygen supplies to the physician’s patients.
Mathur also admitted in the plea agreement that he paid bribes, varying from $25 to $700, to members of the physician’s staff, including nurse practitioners and medical assistants.
The identity of the doctor, who secretly had recorded his dealings with Mathur, was not disclosed in the plea agreement or the original 2011 indictment.
But in March, against the wishes of prosecutors, Mathur’s previous defense lawyers filed court papers breaking the doctor’s cover.
He was identified as Robert Lampert, a member of a team of 14 lung specialists at Pulmonary Associates, a well-known medical practice with several offices in the valley.
Lampert, who has refused to discuss his role in the FBI sting, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Pulmonary Associates attorney Harold Gewerter said the people at the medical practice are relieved that Mathur has pleaded guilty.
“We’re just glad to put this behind us,” Gewerter said. “As far as we know, Dr. Lampert is not involved in any other similar activities with the government.”
In the spring, Mathur’s lawyers filed a sweeping motion under seal to dismiss the indictment, accusing the U.S. attorney’s office of misconduct and mounting a vindictive prosecution against Mathur. The lawyers hinted that their allegations involved “public scandal.”
Prosecutors later called the motion “offensive” in court papers.
And in June, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen put the secret allegations to rest in a 17-page decision denying the defense motion.
Leen said the motion contained nothing more than “scandalous and salacious arguments,” and there were “compelling reasons” to withhold it from the public.
“The court finds the motion to dismiss contains unsubstantiated rumor, gossip and other scurrilous allegations that may be used to gratify private spite, permit public scandal and circulate libelous statements,” Leen wrote.
Contact reporter Jeff German at
[email protected] or 702-380-8135.