The “Rock Doc” stood in Miami federal court Monday sporting an all-black look of T-shirt, pants and sneakers but some not-so-hip accessories – shackles on his wrists and ankles. His grayish-blond hair, once worn in punk-style spikes, was disheveled.
Christopher Gregory Wayne, dubbed the “Rock Doc,’’ had been arrested at Larkin Community Hospital earlier in the day on a dozen charges of Medicare fraud. The longtime Miami Beach resident, 53, was accused of falsely billing the taxpayer-funded program for physical therapy procedures, such as massages and electrical stimulation, that were not necessary or in some instances had been provided at his prior medical practice in Miami.
Wayne, a state-licensed osteopathic physician, seemed utterly disoriented in court.
He had just been arrested, his defense lawyer was absent and prosecutors sought to detain him permanently, calling him a flight risk. “I don’t understand what we’re talking about,” Wayne told Magistrate Judge Barry Garber. “So, even if my lawyer comes tomorrow, I can’t be released tomorrow?”
“No, sir,” responded Garber.
Garber set Wayne’s arraignment for Tuesday and scheduled a bond hearing on Thursday.
His defense lawyer, Michael Grieco, said he will seek Wayne’s release from the Miami Federal Detention Center, scoffing at the allegation his client might flee. “I don’t think there’s anything to back that up,” Grieco said. “He’s a longtime resident of Miami-Dade County.”
Wayne, who has sported the 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 has used his Pine Tree Island home as a production studio for Playboy photo spreads and has posed with celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.
In 2008, he took in more than $1.2 million from Medicare -- the government program for the elderly and disabled -- mainly by billing for physical therapy that involves heat packs and electrical stimulation, according to the Journal profile.
An indictment, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, charged him with 12 counts of Medicare fraud, by submitting “false claims” for therapeutic treatments, such as a 15-minute massages ($25), electrical stimulations ($20) and ultrasounds ($15).
The indictment accuses him of “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. The indictment further alleges that he disbursed the Medicare payments to himself and others.
Wayne once operated a lucrative medical practice in Miami ’s Design District. He told the Journal that he expanded physical therapy at his clinic because his patients needed it.
Medicare regulations require that physical therapists billing under a physician must have completed an accredited physical-therapy education program, the Journal reported. But Wayne said he trained his “office girls” to do the work, in part because hiring full-fledged physical therapists was too expensive.
Wayne acknowledged grossing $1.1 million or $1.2 million from Medicare in 2008, and estimated his take-home that year from his clinic was about $400,000. His gross payments were more than 24 times the Medicare income of the average family doctor, according to the Journal’s analysis of Medicare-claims data.
All together, Wayne’s medical practice received more than $2.6 million from Medicare between 2007 and 2009, according to the Journal’s analysis.
In the story, Wayne denied abusing the system, saying he had not been accused of wrongdoing by authorities. He said his regimen “does wonders” if used correctly. He added that he gave physical therapy to “patients who needed it, with appropriate diagnoses, and I should get paid for it.”
But Medicare administrators grew suspicious of Wayne’s voluminous billing activity for physical therapy services and began heavily scrutinizing his bills in 2009. That increased oversight forced him to sell his business.
Wayne, who obtained his osteopathic license in 1990, went to work for a pain clinic, Park Place Medical Group, in Fort Lauderdale in 2011-12, according to state records.
But he got into trouble dispensing pain killers and other prescription drugs. In September 2012, the state Department of Health banned him from owning, operating or working in a pain management clinic and from dispensing prescription drugs, such as Oxycodone, Xanax and Flexeril.
His Facebook page says Wayne is now working in the emergency room at Larkin Community Hospital, where he was arrested Monday by agents with the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General.