Miami Beach’s ‘Rock Doc’ held before trial on Medicare fraud charges

 
 
Dr. Christopher G. Wayne talks on the phone in his house in Miami Beach in December 2010.
Dr. Christopher G. Wayne talks on the phone in his house in Miami Beach in December 2010.
For The Wall Street Journal / ALEXIA FODERE

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Federal court


jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

Miami Beach’s “Rock Doc” won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.

Christopher Gregory Wayne, an osteopathic physician charged with ripping off Medicare, will have to stay in a Miami federal detention center until his trial, a magistrate judge ruled Thursday.

Wayne, 53, arrested Monday, pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges of submitting bogus bills for physical therapy treatments, such as massages and electrical stimulations, at his former Miami clinic.

At his bail hearing, federal prosecutor Eric Morales argued that Wayne filed almost $5 million in false claims for those treatments in 2007-09 and was paid $1.7 million by the taxpayer-funded Medicare program. He said Wayne, whose patients dubbed him the “Rock Doc” because of his punk-style hairdo, submitted bills for 500 physical therapy sessions a day on average in 2008 — a mathematical impossibility.

Some patients told the federal grand jury that his therapy services were a “joke,” the prosecutor said, adding that the treatments were sometimes provided by Wayne’s unlicensed “office girls.”

Morales told Magistrate Judge Barry Garber that Wayne faced between 6 1/2 and 8 years in prison, making him a likely risk of flight. He also pointed out that the physician filed for bankruptcy, his Miami Beach home was mortgaged to the hilt and that he traveled out of the country in recent years.

Wayne’s criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco countered his client was only charged with $230 in actual Medicare fraud — not millions.

An indictment shows Wayne was charged with 12 counts of Medicare fraud by submitting “false claims” for treating a handful of patients. Each claim was relatively small — 15-minute massages ($25), electrical stimulations ($20) and ultrasounds ($15) – with the total adding up to $230.

But the indictment also accuses Wayne of systematic abuse by “falsely and fraudulently representing that these treatments and services were medically necessary and had been provided to Medicare beneficiaries” between December 2007 and August 2009.

Grieco tried to get his client released on bond before trial by arguing that Wayne has lived in Miami Beach for more than 20 years and has family in Arkansas and Illinois. And, he pointed out, the federal probation office recommended that Wayne get a personal surety bond before trial.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Grieco said.

But Garber, the magistrate, sided with the prosecutor, saying “he might well flee this jurisdiction.”

Wayne, who has sported punkish hair along with chains, bangles and leather bracelets in the past, has been in the public eye before as a focus of a Wall Street Journal profile in December 2010.

According to the profile, he had used his Pine Tree Island home as a production studio for Playboy photo spreads and had posed with celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

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