Palm Beach County eye doctor Salomon Melgen gets 17 years for Medicare fraud

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- A federal judge has sentenced a politically prominent Florida eye doctor to 17 years in prison for stealing $73 million in one of history's largest Medicare frauds.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sentenced Dr. Salomon Melgen on Thursday for 67 crimes including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records in patients' files. He could have given Melgen a life sentence.

He was also ordered to pay $42.6 million in restitution.

Prosecutors said Melgen was the nation's highest-paid Medicare provider for five straight years. But evidence showed his business was built on fraud. Melgen convinced many elderly patients to undergo often painful tests and treatments they didn't need.

In a separate case, Melgen was accused of bribing New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Those charges were recently dropped after their New Jersey trial ended with a hung jury.

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