Orthopedic surgeon faces criminal charges for participating in kickback scheme.
Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, 57, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an orthopedic surgeon and creator of spinal surgery implants, was arrested this month and charged with paying millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes to surgeons who agreed to use his expensive medical equipment in their practices. Chin is the founder, chief executive officer and owner of SpineFrontier in Malden, Massachusetts, and according to authorities, he and the company’s chief financial officer, Aditya Humad, 36, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, were each indicted on one count of “conspiring to violate federal anti-kickback laws, six counts of violating the kickback statute and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.”
Chin is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. He has patented dozens of parts of spine surgery equipment, including doughnut-shaped plastic cages, titanium screws and other products. These devices have produced roughly “$100 million in sales for SpineFrontier,” according to government officials. In 2018, SpineFrontier valued Chin’s ownership of the company at $75 million. However, profits from devices themselves was not enough for Chin. His greed, authorities believe, led to engaging in criminal activities to generate even more wealth.
“Bribes paid to surgeons as sham medical consultants, as alleged in this case, cheat patients and taxpayers alike,” said Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate kickback schemes that threaten the integrity of our federal health care system, no matter how those schemes are disguised.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ)’s indictment indicates that SpineFrontier, Chin and Humad “paid surgeons between $250 and $1,000 per hour in sham consulting fees for work they did not perform. In exchange, the surgeons agreed to use SpineFrontier’s products in operations paid for by federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Surgeons accepted between $32,625 and $978,000 in improper payments.”
Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said, “Kickbacks undermine the integrity of federal health care programs and can result in unnecessary or harmful medical care. The Department of Justice will pursue unlawful kickback arrangements in whatever form they occur to ensure the integrity of the medical care received by federal program beneficiaries.”
“Kickback arrangements pollute federal health care programs and take advantage of patient needs for financial gains,” agreed Nathaniel Mendell, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “Medical device manufacturers must play by the rules, and we will keep pursuing those who fail to do so, regardless of how their corruption is disguised.”
In March 2020, SpineFrontier, Chin and Humad were all named as defendants in a civil lawsuit over the use of Chin’s medical equipment, along with Chin’s consulting company, Impartial Medical Experts LLC, his holding company, KICVentures LLC; KIC Management Group Inc., and Chin’s wife, Vanessa Dudley, the sole employee of Impartial Medical Experts. The scam was uncovered by three whistleblowers, and the case was brought under the False Claims Act, which enables the government to pursue charges against anyone who defrauds its programs.