A San Diego neurosurgeon could face jail time after he pleaded guilty to accepting millions in bribes to perform spinal surgeries at a now-closed Long Beach hospital.
Lokesh Tantuwaya, 55, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and to violate the federal Anti-Kickback statute, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
He will be sentenced on Dec. 9 and faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
Between 2010 and 2013, Tantuwaya took $3.3 million in bribes from Michael Drobot, owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, so the neurosurgeon would perform his procedures at the hospital.
So far, 23 people have been convicted as part of the scheme, which ended in 2013 after law enforcement searched the hospital and it was sold later that year.
“Drobot conspired with doctors, chiropractors and marketers to pay kickbacks and bribes in return for the referral of thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other medical services paid for primarily through the California workers’ compensation system. During its final five years, the scheme resulted in the submission of more than $500 million in medical bills for spine surgeries involving kickbacks,” the release said.