A gay doctor in Los Angeles has
admitted to chiseling Medicare of thousands of dollars in an
AIDS-related billing scam, reports The Associated Press.
Dr. George Steven Kooshian of La Quinta
plead guilty February 24 to administering diluted doses of medicine
to mostly gay patients suffering with HIV, AIDS or hepatitis and
billing the federal government and private insurers the full cost of
The OC Weekly, a Village Voice
Media alternative weekly that serves Orange County, first reported on
Kooshian's illegal enterprise in a 2001 cover story written by R.
But when Moxley first began
investigating Kooshian, a powerful gay philanthropist, his friends
pushed back, calling the doctor a “concerned and caring physician”
who had been victimized by “unethical and inappropriate”
reporting in a full-page advertisement printed in gay weekly The
Orange County-Long Beach Blade.
In 2005, however, the Weekly was
vindicated when federal agents used the
paper's reporting as the basis to open their own probe that
resulted in criminal charges.
Kooshian has admitted to administering
diluted treatments at four offices in Los Angeles and Orange County.
But the Weekly alleges that Kooshian went further. It says he
harmed the patients that sought his help by substituting vital
medicine with an impotent brew of saline and liquid vitamins – at a
cost of up to $9,000 per shot – and made a fortune off their
Federal agents believe he stole as much
as $660,000 with this scheme.
Kooshian's assistant Virgil Opinion
also faces criminal charges for his role in the scam. The pair have
also admitted to billing for treatments that never occurred.
Ironically, his supporters were
unwilling to believe that someone who had generously supported the
gay community could have benefited from harming it. Kooshian's
lawyer, William Kopeny, continues to insist his client did nothing to
“impair the heath of any of his patients.”
Kooshian faces up to 50 years in prison
and a $1.32 million fine at a May 11 sentencing hearing.