Augusta, GA – An Augusta optometrist and his businesses have settled a False Claims Act Case for $275,000 in Federal Court in Augusta.
According to U.S. District Attorney Edward Tarver’s office, Jeffrey Sponseller, O.D. of Augusta, Sponseller Eye Care One, P.C., and S&H Eye Care, LLC, currently doing business as “Eye Care One”, have agreed to pay the United States a total of $275,000 to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting or causing the submission of false claims to federal and state healthcare programs for services that were either inadequately performed or not performed at all.
According to Tarver’s office, “the civil settlement resolves allegations that were originally part of a joint criminal and civil investigation of Sponseller’s submission of bogus claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Railroad Retirement Medicare Program for the lengthiest and most expensive type of eye examination conducted on nursing home patients when, in reality, he either conducted a very short eye examination or no examination at all. On January 10, 2014, Sponseller was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $441,729.85 in restitution to Medicare. Sponseller’s civil False Claims Act settlement is in addition to the restitution ordered in his criminal case.”
This civil settlement resolves related allegations that were part of a federal lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act on January 8, 2014. Sponseller is the former owner of Eye Care One, located at 3152 Washington Road in Augusta, Georgia, which is now owned by his wife, Tracie Sponseller, O.D. and Matthew Haubert, O.D.
United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver said, “This settlement demonstrates the United States Attorney’s Office’s commitment to pursue all available remedies against those who commit health care fraud. Both criminal and civil avenues will be pursued in order to protect the American taxpayers as well as our nation’s elderly citizens, who were taken advantage of in this instance.”
The case was investigated by Special Agent David Graupner, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Investigations; and Investigator Kimberly Reinken-Creamer of the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Shannon Heath Statkus.
According to a posting on the FBI’s website, Sponseller pleaded guilty “to submitting over $800,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicare” on February 20, 2013.
Sponseller, 50, is currently in prison at the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution, according to the the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons. He is scheduled to be released on July 2, 2016.