Maryland doctor indicted for health care fraud

Dr. Ron Elfenbein (Provided, file photo)

A Jewish doctor and resident of Anne Arundel County has been indicted by a grand jury of health care fraud in the approximate amount of $1.5 million or more.

A grand jury of the United States district court for the district of Maryland on April 19 charged Dr. Ron K. Elfenbein with health care fraud, forfeiture and aiding and abetting.

According to the indictment, Elfenbein is the physician, owner and medical director of Drs ERgent Care, LLC. The indictment alleges that in or around March 2020 and continuing to in or around December 2021, he was part of “a scheme to defraud a health care benefit program,” and that Drs ERgent Care offered COVID-19 testing during the pandemic, but required the tests to be bundled together with more lucrative services that were unnecessary. It adds that the unnecessary services supposedly lasted for 30 minutes or longer or involved moderate to high levels of medical decision making, but that they “did not in fact occur as represented.”

The indictment alleges that Elfenbein considered these more lucrative services to be the “‘bread and butter’ of how we get paid.”

If convicted of all the charges against him, Elfenbein could face a sentence of 10 years incarceration, a $250,000 fine and three years’ supervised release, said Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland.

“We have strict standards, and we don’t charge or issue indictments unless we are confident in the case,” Barron said. “However, again, these are only allegations at this point. Any defendant, including him, that’s been charged criminally or indicted is innocent until proven guilty, and is entitled to their day in court. And the government is required to prove any charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

D. Keith Clouser is the attorney handling Elfenbein’s prosecution, Barron added.

Attorney Mike Lawlor is representing Elfenbein, The Washington Post reported. When asked for comment, Lawlor’s firm — Brennan, McKenna & Lawlor, Chtd. — released a statement saying that in “the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Ron Elfenbein rallied his doctor’s office in a time of global fear, to be a leading provider of COVID-19 testing and treatment in the community. These efforts enabled essential personnel, including police officers, firefighters, and health care providers to continue to perform their vital work.

“A trial in this case will prove not only that Dr. Elfenbein is innocent of the charges hastily brought by the government, but that during a time of unprecedented need, Dr. Elfenbein and his staff saved the lives of numerous Marylanders,” the statement continued. “The government’s allegations ignore Dr. Elfenbein’s heroic efforts — efforts which have been recognized by Gov. Larry Hogan, the Maryland State Legislature and the Maryland State Medical Society.”

In 2000, Elfenbein graduated from SUNY Upstate Medical University’s College of Medicine in New York, The Washington Post reported. He ran for the General Assembly in 2006 and 2010, but was not successful.

In 2015, Elfenbein applied for consideration to fill a state delegate seat left vacant by former Republican Del. Cathy Vitale, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported at the time. Instead, Hogan chose lawyer and former chairman of the Republican Central Committee Michael Malone.

At the time, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported that Elfenbein’s synagogue was Kneseth Israel Congregation. A letter written by Rabbi Moshe Weisblum, then the rabbi of Kneseth Israel Congregation, stated that Elfenbein’s “honesty and integrity — a keystone for any public servant — has been evident since I first met him 12 years ago, as is his genuine care of others. He is an active member on Kneseth Israel’s board of directors and has been vital to the synagogue’s fundraising efforts as well.”

Elfenbein had been a frequent guest on national and local television programs centered around coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. According to The Post, Elfenbein is a “prominent Maryland doctor overseeing coronavirus testing at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport and other sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.” At a ribbon-cutting for a clinic at BWI, The Post said, Hogan presented Elfenbein with a citation for his work during
the pandemic.

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