A former Rancho Mirage resident pleaded guilty in federal court this morning, to a charge arising from a scheme in which falsely claimed cosmetic surgery procedures were “medically necessary,” resulting in insurance companies paying significant amounts of money in fraudulent claims for cosmetic procedures.
Health care fraud conspiracy
According to KTLA News, Linda Morrow, 69, admitted that she assisted her husband, David Morrow, in running the fraudulent billing scheme out of The Morrow Institute (TMI) in Rancho Mirage, and she has been in federal custody since July 2019.
The price was almost too good to pass up for someone who was trying to lose some belly fat, shrink their nose, or increase the size of their breasts, among other things. For their assistance in fudging the paperwork by signing “testimonial” letters or declarations that contained misleading information, patients were given free liposuction, nose jobs, breast augmentation, and vaginal rejuvenation procedures.
As per the report, some patients were even compensated in cash as an incentive, while others were exempt from having to pay expensive co-insurance fees. The court records state that one patient received payment in exchange for undergoing various treatments that were billed to insurance for a total of roughly $1 million dollars.
Victim insurance companies
As per the news released by the U.S Department of Justice, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, and Cigna Health Insurance were among the victims. As part of the conspiracy, educational districts were also defrauded, as well as Staples Inc. The Desert Sands Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, City of Palm Springs, and California Highway Patrol were all named in TMI’s lawsuit to seek payment for some of the bogus surgeries.
Morrow testified in court that she departed the country in an effort to avoid prosecution and did not show up in court as required. While she was in Israel, Morrow used a fake Mexican passport to get into the country and another fake Guatemalan passport while she was staying there. For her part, Morrow acknowledged submitting a false application for Israeli citizenship while on the run.
Morrow was sentenced to up to 20 years in jail.