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Dutchess Physician Arrested For Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft

Dr. Spyros Panos practiced medicine in Poughkeepsie.
Dr. Spyros Panos practiced medicine in Poughkeepsie. Photo Credit: File photo

A disgraced former Hudson Valley doctor is back in hot water after being busted for obtaining more than $750,000 by assuming the identity of a licensed orthopedic surgeon as part of an elaborate scheme.

Geoffrey Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of former physician Spyros Panos - a former orthopedic surgeon from Hopewell Junction who pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from health insurance companies in 2013 - was arrested on Tuesday and is facing new charges for allegedly obtaining more than $860,000 in payments for reviewing patient files in Workers Compensation cases.

Panos, 49, surrendered his license to practice medicine in October 2013, after pleading guilty to stealing money from health insurance companies by performing up to 20 surgeries per day, including several that were unnecessary, when he was sentenced to a term to 54 months in prison. He was subsequently released to a halfway house in September 2016 and to home confinement in October that year, to begin a term of two-year post-release supervision.

According to Berman, “in connection with medical treatment relating to Workers’ Compensation claims, a peer review may be conducted when a treating physician requests a variance in treatment.  The doctor performing the peer review is a licensed independent doctor who reviews the patient file but does not examine the patient, and writes a report opining whether the variance is appropriate.  There are companies that supply doctors who conduct such peer reviews.”

Berman said that before surrendering his medical license, a company called Excel O LLC was formed, registered in the name of a family member of Panos, who is not a licensed physician. Before his prison sentence, Excel O accepted more than $239,000 for consultations, and two months after his release, $646,500 in checks were issued to the same company.

Panos allegedly used a legally licensed orthopedic’s surgeon during that time to collect the cash and illegally review the workers’ comp cases, according to the federal complaint.

Once the money was deposited into Excel O’s bank accounts, money was transferred to Panos’ family members and more than $100,000 was transferred to a bank account in Hong Kong. Other money was transferred into Panos’ families accounts.

According to the criminal complaint, “The doctor whose credentialing information was submitted to the review companies and represented to be the Excel Doctor’s credentials is a licensed physician who is an orthopedic surgeon employed by a practice in Westchester County, not Excel Orthopedics. The doctor did not submit his credentialing information to the review companies referred to above, did not conduct any peer reviews, did not authorize Panos or anyone else to use his/her credentialing information to conduct peer reviews, and did not receive any of the review company fees for services he/she was falsely represented to have performed.”

Panos was arrested at his Hopewell Junction home on Tuesday morning and charged with wire fraud, health-care fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 32 years in prison and may be fined upwards of $500,000 if convicted. He is due back in court later this year to answer the charges.

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