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Doctors Behaving Badly: Doctor’s underhanded deal is undone by FBI

Doctors Behaving Badly: Doctor’s underhanded deal is undone by FBI

Picture of William Heisel

So convoluted was Dr. Mark B. Kabins' scheme to scam a patient he injured that you might need a whiteboard and several differently colored markers to make sense of it.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Melodie Simon underwent a spine surgery by Kabins, an orthopedic surgeon, in 2000. It went badly, and Simon ended up paralyzed.

According to the FBI, Kabins "knew that experts could say that he fell below the standard of care in his treatment of Simon, and that he could be sued."

So Kabins turned to his friend Howard Awand, a medical consultant. Kabins asked Awand to cut a deal with Simon's attorney, Noel Gage. If Gage would agree not to sue Kabins, Awand would refer personal injury cases to Gage.

To make the deal even sweeter, Kabins threw Gage another doctor to sue for Simon's injuries: the anesthesiologist. Kabins wrote a letter, blaming the anesthesiologist and, as the FBI puts it, "intentionally omitted information about his secret dealings with Gage and information about Simon's medical condition following her surgery."

The 49-year-old Kabins was charged with fraud and conspiracy. In November 2009, he pleaded guilty to one count of "misprision of felony."

Never heard of it?

If this were a gangster film, someone might call it "refusing to be a rat." Federal law says that if you know someone has committed a felony, you need to tell law enforcement as soon as possible. So, in essence, Kabins was able to skirt any serious crime on his record by pleading that he should have told the cops that Gage and Awand were engaged in fraud. Those two are scheduled to stand trial in February. According to the FBI:

The men are accused of being part of a network of Las Vegas physicians and lawyers who cheated clients out of honest services by, among other things, protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits and sharing kickbacks from legal settlements.

Kabins' misdeeds weren't pain free, though. Last week, Senior U.S. District Judge Justin L. Quackenbush sentenced him to five years of probation, six months of home confinement and 250 hours of community work service. He also ordered Kabins to pay $3.5 million in restitution to Simon.

The local press is calling Kabins and his pals "the Medical Mafia." Here's betting there are more rats still to be trapped.

Final question: Will Kabins pay Simon and what will happen to that money? It would be a great follow-up for this case or any similar case to check with the victim a year from now and see how, or if, that money has made any difference in the patient's life. We already know Simon had a lousy attorney to begin with. Will her new attorney take a sizable piece of that payout? Will she be able to pay for new treatments? It doesn't take a spine surgeon to know that no amount of money can make up for being paralyzed.



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