Report: Ask-Gary medical referral service under state investigation, FBI inquiry for insurance fraud
Big Exposure: Tampa's Ford Amphitheatre was renamed 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre last year. (Photo: Dawn Lewis, special to the St. Petersburg Times.)
Update: Read St. Petersburg Times reporter Stephen Nohlgren's story here on this investigation. And here's a more recent statement from Physicians Group, cited in the posting below: "Physicians Group has not been contacted by any local, state or federal investigative agency or received any other indication that Physicians Group or ASK GARY is under investigation by anybody," states Sarasota attorney Greg Zitani, who represents the companies.
Wake up and good morning. Gary Kompothecras (photo, right), the chiropractor who has grown wealthy and gained prominence in Florida with his 1-800-ASK-GARY referral service catering to car-accident victims, may be feeling some pain of his own.
Bloomberg News reports in depth that Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud is conducting a criminal probe of accident-referral services, according to Captain Steven Smith, one of the department’s investigators. The Ask-Gary network is under scrutiny as part of that inquiry, says Bloomberg citing two unnamed people with direct knowledge of the investigation. The same story says the FBI also is making inquiries about Ask-Gary, citing four unidentified people familiar with the matter. Read the full Nov. 10 Bloomberg story here.
State investigators, says Bloomberg, are trying to determine whether clinics or lawyers in the networks make unlawful payments for referrals and whether patients are being treated for non-existent injuries, Smith recently told the Florida bar association. The FBI wants to know whether lawyers are directing treatment based on how much insurance coverage patients have, "according to people familiar with the matter," the story states. Only licensed medical practitioners are permitted to decide treatment.
Physician’s Group, a chain of clinics founded by Kompothecras, complies with all "laws, regulations and rules of ethics," said Steven Burton, an attorney for the clinics. Gregory Zitani, Physician’s Group’s general counsel, told Bloomberg the group was "unaware of any pending investigation." He told the bar association in June that lawyers in the ask-Gary network have "absolutely no requirement" to send patients to Physician’s Group.
Kompothecras, of course, is a big name around Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Florida. Last year, he paid to rename the Ford Amphitheatre music venue in Tampa the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. A Kompothecras-led company this year acquired the Captiva Beach Resort, one of the Siesta Key area's most award-winning hotels.
The Bloomberg story says Kompothecras' clinics have $70 million to $80 million in annual revenues, according to industry estimates. He owns an 11-seat private jet and recently built a 29,948-square-foot, oceanfront mansion on Siesta Key in Sarasota assessed at $7.4 million.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times