ROME, Ga. – A federal district judge has ordered Charles Adams MD and his medical practice to pay more than $27 million for violating the False Claims Act (FCA). In June 2023, a federal jury in Rome found that the defendants violated the FCA by submitting false claims to Medicare for reimbursement for chelation therapy. Chelation therapy uses medications to remove heavy metals from the body. The jury concluded that Medicare reimbursed the defendants more than $1.1 million for these unnecessary treatments. In a subsequent ruling, the federal district judge added penalties to the jury’s verdict, bringing the total amount owed to over $27 million.
“The court’s ruling underscores the serious consequences health care providers face when they submit false claims to Medicare,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “On behalf of the health care providers who diligently bill for medical procedures and on behalf of their patients who rely on the safety net of Medicare, our office will continue to work vigorously with our federal agencies and law enforcement partners to prosecute providers who commit misconduct.”
“Physicians who fraudulently submit inappropriate, medically unnecessary claims place their personal profits above their obligations to federal health programs and their patients,” said Tamala E. Miles, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS -OIG). “Together with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG is committed to investigating potentially fraudulent billings that may jeopardize the integrity of our federal health care programs and the well-being of beneficiaries.”
“Providers who undermine the integrity of the health care system will be held accountable for their actions,” said Sean Burke, assistant special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “Measures like these impact every taxpaying citizen, especially those who rely on government-funded programs for their health care.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the civil complaint, the court’s final order and other information presented in court, Adams operated a medical practice in Ringgold, Georgia, known as Full Circle Medical Center. As part of his specialty in internal medicine, Adams administered the drug edetate calcium disodium (“EDTA”) to treat a variety of conditions, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue and other common symptoms. However, it is not recognized that these symptoms are treatable with EDTA. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, EDTA is only recognized for the treatment of lead poisoning and lead encephalopathy. Since the patients of Dr. Adams did not suffer from lead poisoning or lead encephalopathy, Medicare would not reimburse him for taking EDTA. In order to obtain reimbursement for the EDTA, Dr. Adams falsely told Medicare that his patients were suffering from heavy metal poisoning.
In August 2018, the government filed a civil lawsuit alleging that between November 2008 and September 2015, Adams and Full Circle knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary and “alternative” chelation therapy that Adams administered using EDTA had. The complaint also alleged that Adams and Full Circle improperly received approximately $1.1 million in Medicare reimbursements in connection with this plan.
The case was tried by a jury in Rome, Georgia, in June 2023 before presiding U.S. District Judge William M. Ray, II. The jury found Adams and Full Circle liable for submitting more than 4,400 false claims to Medicare. The jury awarded more than $1.1 million in damages. Under the FCA, Judge Ray was required to triple the jury award and impose additional penalties depending on the number of false claims submitted. Judge Ray issued his final decision on August 25, 2023, ordering the defendants to pay compensatory damages and penalties totaling $27,567,729.
The FCA is the principal agency of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Division combating fraud, waste and abuse in federal programs, including Medicare.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony DeCinque and Akash Desai. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Paris Wynn also worked on the case before his departure.
For further information, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Public Affairs at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.