May 8, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
NURSE PLEADS GUILTY TO MEDICAID FRAUD AND RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT
OF DIALYSIS PATIENTS
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Paul Zakrzeski,
R.N., owner of a free-standing dialysis center in Baltimore County,
pled guilty in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to one count
of felony Medicaid fraud and one count of reckless endangerment
of Medicaid patients. The Honorable John O. Hennegan sentenced Zakrzeski
to five years in jail on each count, to run concurrently, with all
but 18 months suspended, and ordered him to serve five years probation.
Hennegan ordered Zakrzeski to serve an additional 18 months of home
confinement after his jail term is completed. Zakrzeski was also
sentenced to pay a total of $100,000 in restitution, for billing
Medicaid for medications that he did not provide. In addition, Zakrzeskis
corporation, Dialysis With Heart, pled guilty to felony Medicaid
fraud and was sentenced to pay a penalty of $300,000.
49, of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, is a registered nurse and was the
owner of Dialysis With Heart. Over a period of two-and-a-half years,
Dialysis With Heart billed Medicaid and Medicare for providing a
medication called epogen to Medicaid dialysis patients when, in
fact, the medication was not given. According to patients, Zakrzeski
made it appear as if he were providing epogen at the end of dialysis
sessions when in fact he was only signing off that the medicine
had been given. Epogen is a prescription medicine ordered by doctors
for dialysis patients to stimulate the patients bone marrow
to make new red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
With Heart was open from February 1, 1999 through August 31, 2001.
During that time, Zakrzeskis corporation, at his direction,
filed claims with Medicaid and Medicare indicating the Dialysis
With Heart had administered over 29,000,000 units of epogen. Purchasing
records from Dialysis With Heart show that during that same period,
the company purchased less than 6,000,000 units of epogen. More
specifically, during the eight month period from September, 2000
to April, 2001, Zakrzeski personally initialed billing forms showing
that over 8,000,000 units of epogen had been given to Medicaid patients
while his company purchased less than 400,000 units during that
knowing failure to provide epogen to dialysis patients for whom
a doctor had prescribed epogen as a necessary medication, created
a substantial risk of death and serious injury to those patients.
a related matter, the investigation of Dialysis With Heart also
revealed that Zakrzeski purchased epogen on the "black market."
Attorney General Curran announced that Thomas Guy, a dialysis technician
who worked for Maryland General Hospital, plead guilty to stealing
epogen from Maryland General Hospital and selling it to Zakrzeski.
Epogen has a short shelf life if it is not refrigerated and the
epogen Guy sold to Zakrzeski for use on Dialysis With Heart patients
was not continually refrigerated. Guy pled guilty to a single count
of felony theft. The Honorable Stuart R. Berger, of the Circuit
Court for Baltimore City, sentenced Guy to two years in jail, with
all but six months suspended. Judge Berger ordered Guy to serve
the remaining six months in home confinement and placed Guy on three
years probation. Guy was ordered to pay $6,200 in restitution to
Maryland General Hospital.
cases were prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the
Maryland Attorney Generals Office.