An alcoholic surgeon who took cash kickbacks for patient referrals on Wednesday became the first doctor to be sent to prison in the government’s sprawling probe of the former Sacred Heart Hospital on the West Side.
Subir Maitra, 74, was handed a six-month sentence after he confessed to taking $2,000 a month to send patients to Sacred Heart.
Federal agents raided the hospital in April 2013, alleging a ghoulish and in some cases fatal scam in which poor and elderly patients underwent unnecessary surgeries, so that the hospital could falsely bill Medicare.
The hospital was shuttered soon after.
But though its owner, Edward Novak, and 10 executives and doctors including Maitra were eventually charged with a kickback scheme, nobody was charged with the more serious allegations of unnecessary surgeries.
Maitra — who allegedly once boasted that he made “so much money” doing penile implants almost daily until Medicare reduced its implant payments — pleaded guilty in May to billing for services he did not provide and for taking kickbacks for patient referrals.
His lawyer, Thomas Durkin, on Wednesday told U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly that Maitra was a “broken man” who suffered bankruptcy after an ugly divorce, has lost his medical license and is struggling with alcoholism.
Prosecutors alleged that Maitra had endangered patients by working drunk, suggesting a sentence of up to two years, but Durkin said Maitra did his drinking in the evening “and does not believe his work was affected.”
Supported by 20 former patients and friends in court, Maitra told the judge he’d like to start serving his time as soon as possible.