2 more doctors indicted in kickback scheme linked to Pacific Hospital, prosecutors say

Two more Southern California doctors were indicted last week on charges that they participated in a kickback scheme centered around Pacific Hospital in Long Beach that produced almost $1 billion in fraudulent insurance claims, according to federal prosecutors.

Orthopedic surgeon Jacob Tauber, 66, of Beverly Hills and neurosurgeon Serge Obukhoff, 62, of Malibu, both received kickbacks to send patients to the now-defunct Pacific Hospital, according to allegations in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury Thursday.

Prosecutors announced the charges Monday, saying Tauber was also charged separately with taking payments to refer patients to a specific urine analysis lab.

“These two physicians leveraged vulnerable patients to participate in a fraudulent kickback scheme,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison. “Their scheme violated their oaths as physicians as well as the law.”

The new indictments come shortly after nine more doctors were charged in late June with participating in the alleged fraud scheme that included doctors and other medical professionals illicitly being paid $40 million in kickbacks to refer thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital, according to authorities. Three more doctors were indicted just a couple of weeks before that. Prosecutors said some of the patients lived hundreds of miles away from the hospital.

The former owner of Pacific Hospital, Michael D. Drobot, was sentenced in January to more than five years in federal prison for orchestrating the kickbacks.

Drobot ran the scheme from 1997 through October 2013 but then pleaded guilty in 2014 and began cooperating with authorities, prosecutors said.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children, Paul and Simon.