Skip to main content

Twin Cities lens firm accused of using luxury skiing, hunting trips as kickbacks to doctors

Precision Lens denies the allegations filed by the federal government.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

What's happening?

Bloomington, Minnesota-based Precision Lens, which makes lenses used in cataract surgery, is accused of running an illegal kickback scheme for eye doctors.

In a complaint filed by Minnesota's U.S. Attorney Gregory Booker on Thursday, Precision Lens and its owner Paul Ehlen are accused of laying on luxury trips for doctors, apparently as an inducement for them to use Precision Lens products and services.

What kind of kickbacks?

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Precision Lens and Ehlen are accused of organizing luxury trips for doctors including skiing vacations, and "high-end fishing, golfing and hunting vacations."

In many of these trips, doctors were take to their destinations on private jets. Precision Lens and Ehlen are also accused of selling frequent flyer miles to doctors at a steep discount, allowing them to make trips well below market value.

The government alleges Precision Lens kept a slush fun to finance trips "with key physician customers and sales targets."

"Federal health care beneficiaries should have confidence that the health care they receive is unaffected by kickbacks provided to their medical providers," said United States Attorney Gregory Brooker. 

"Companies are not permitted to use expensive trips and other remuneration in order to persuade physicians to use products supplied by those companies, and physicians may not accept such remuneration in exchange for patient referrals."

Speaking to the Star Tribune, an attorney for Precision Lens says the company disputes the government's version of events, saying it "took care to follow all relevant laws and regulations regarding its interactions with health care professionals.

"The allegations in the complaint are without merit, and Precision Lens looks forward to being vindicated through the courts."

What else?

This case is related to another case recently settled with the government, in which North Carolina eye doctor Jitendra Swarup agreed to pay $2.9 million for participating in another payment scheme.

Between 2006 and 2015, the government states Swarup received illegal payments from Precision Lens, Ehlen and a related business called Sightpath Medical.

Authorities were alerted to this by a whistleblower, who is entitled to 19.5 percent of the settlement Swarup has agreed to pay as well as the $12 million settlement agreed with Sightpath.

Next Up

J R Jones - Anoka County Jail 2021.10.16 - Resize crop

Fatal hit-and-run driver can avoid prison time with plea deal

He was charged with striking and killing a 56-year-old who was walking her dog.

Screen Shot 2022-01-24 at 11.21.49 AM

Alex Rodriguez: 'I'm not a Packers fan'

He was at Lambeau screaming "Cheese!" and "Let's go!" during the playoff game against the 49ers.

St. Paul Police Department

Woman killed in St. Paul's North End identified as 31-year-old

A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the shooting.

police lights

Homes shot at randomly in Wisconsin; residents nearly struck

The people inside the homes were nearly struck, according to the  Juneau County Sheriff’s Office.

Levi Arneberg

Charges: Man killed roommate's 4 pet ferrets after argument

He told police he swears one of the ferrets was "laughing and breathing" as he kept shooting it in the head, charges state.

Minneapolis police

St. Cloud 27-year-old ID'd as victim of homicide near U of M

The shooting, which also injured two others, occurred Thursday near the 500 block of 15th Avenue South.

2019_0914_Packers_Away_0419

What happens to the Vikings if Aaron Rodgers leaves the NFC North?

Rodgers said he isn't interested in rebuilding in Green Bay, is it time for the Vikings to pounce or stay the course?

Related

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

Feds say the MN company took doctors on luxury vacations

Man convicted in Twin Cities 'corrupt chiropractors' scam

Yahye Herrow acted as a runner in the scam.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy firm to pay $4M to settle allegations it made false claims

The company allegedly submitted false claims for outpatient services over a period of five years.

Pool

Maple Grove man defrauded PPP of $1.7M, used some to install pool

The 47-year-old pleaded guilty in federal court.

Drywall

Husband and wife sentenced for fraud scheme through their drywall firm

The Annandale pair bilked an insurance company out of more than $300,000.

Superintendent arrested for exposure at a Kwik Trip

Scott Staska works for the Rocori Schools District, and was in line for a top job in Moorhead.

Charges: Twin Cities pharmacist stole 20,000 pills

The pharmacist fiddled with inventory records to achieve the thefts, charges say.