MN company accused of giving doctors luxury vacations will pay $12M

Feds say the MN company took doctors on luxury vacations
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A Minnesota medical company accused of wooing doctors by taking them on luxury vacations will pay $12 million to settle the kickback allegations, federal officials say. 

Sightpath Medical of Minneapolis and its former CEO, James Tiffany, agreed to the payment to settle a whistleblower lawsuit the U.S. Attorney's office said Monday.

According to prosecutors Sightpath, which supplies lenses and equipment to eye surgeons, took clients or prospective ones on high-end skiing, golfing, fishing, and hunting trips from 2006 through 2014.

The feds say Tiffany, who was CEO from 2010 to 2013 was directly involved in setting up trips and participated in them. 

Sightpath was sued under the False Claims Act, with prosecutors saying that because doctors were influenced by kickbacks, the Medicare reimbursement claims they submitted to the government were fraudulent. 

The company tells the Star Tribune they admitted no wrongdoing under the settlement and are "pleased to resolve this civil matter." His lawyer told the newspaper Tiffany paid nothing in the settlement, with Sightpath covering the whole thing. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Greg Brooker said in a statement this is the third time in three months he's handled a big medical fraud case involving the False Claims Act. He says those cases are a top priority for his office. 

The employee who filed the whistleblower lawsuit will get 19.5 percent of the settlement money, officials say.

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