Former psychiatrist in Southwest Va. pleads guilty to fraud

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A former psychiatrist who used to work in Lebanon is facing serious jail time and fines after carrying on a sexual relationship with a patient.

Alfredo Cervantes, 62, pled guilty to one count of health-care fraud and one count of wire fraud, according to an announcement Wednesday from U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. 

Cervantes faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January. As part of his guilty plea, Cervantes agreed to never practice medicine again. His medical license and DEA registration were revoked in 2015.

Cervantes used to work as a psychiatrist for Mountain States Medical Group and Russell County Medical Center, according to evidence presented at last week’s guilty plea hearing.

In 2012, Cervantes started a sexual relationship with one of his patients. Over the course of the relationship, Cervantes bought alcohol for the patient and encouraged her to drink with him despite the fact he was prescribing her medicine for which alcohol is contraindicated.

The relationship continued until 2014 when Cervantes ended the relationship, and the patient attempted suicide.

During the relationship with his patient, Cervantes billed United Healthcare in the amount of $1,508 for her psychiatric care, and caused Virginia Medicaid to be fraudulently billed $9,313 for prescription medications Cervantes wrote for her. No legitimate psychiatric care of the patient took place.

The case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

“This was a violation of the law and of the duty of care that this doctor owed to one of his patients,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a press release. “Cervantes’ stole from taxpayers and his unethical behavior could have jeopardized the health and welfare of a person in his care.

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