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Local podiatrist guilty of lying to federal grand jury

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

By Chelyen Davis

A Fredericksburg-area podiatrist has pleaded guilty to making a false declaration to a grand jury, a federal charge.

Dr. Ilene Terrell made the plea—to four counts—in federal court in Boston last week.

Terrell’s plea comes in the context of a larger federal case about Medicare fraud and falsifying patient records.

According to court documents, Terrell was prescribing to some of her patients an Orthofix bone growth stimulator device and submitting claims for Medicare to pay for the stimulators. Medicare will pay for the stimulators, which can cost $4,000, only in cases where a long bone has been broken and isn’t fully healing after three or more months. Terrell was prescribing them before the three months were up, then changing patient records, with the collusion of the Orthofix representative.

“On a number of occasions, faced with a patient for whom Terrell wanted to use a bone stimulator but for whom insurance coverage rules barred reimbursement, an Orthofix Territory Manager, Terrell, and/or one of Terrell’s employees, at Terrell’s direction, manipulated the patient’s medical records to make it appear as though the patient’s order met insurance guidelines, to induce the insurance carrier to pay the claim that otherwise would not have been paid,” said a court document.

As part of a broader federal fraud investigation into Orthofix, Terrell was subpoenaed by a grand jury, and asked if she was aware patient records had been changed. She lied, the court documents say, “emphatically denying that she manipulated patient records or that she was even aware that anyone had done so.”

She also lied to the grand jury about conversations she had with an Orthofix representative about the investigation, in which she allegedly told him, “If you guys take me out you are never going to live to hear the end of it. If I roll on this, I am serious, heads are going to roll, heads are absolutely gonna roll.”

Orthofix eventually pleaded guilty to charges around its manipulation of doctors’ records for the bone stimulators, and agreed to pay $42 million.

Terrell will be sentenced in April. She could face a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each of the four counts.

According to her website, she has practiced in the Fredericksburg area since 1986, and at one point served as chairman of the podiatry department at Mary Washington Hospital.

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245