Podiatrist sentenced for Medicare fraud

A 56-year-old Gambrills podiatrist was sentenced to more than four years in prison Wednesday for fraudulently billing Medicare $1.1 million over three years, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office.

The scheme marked the second time Larry Bernhard had defrauded the federal agency, according to court records.

In 2007, he signed a settlement agreement with the government admitting he'd billed for services he didn't provide between 2002 and 2004, and promising to abstain from using federal health care programs for three years. But he immediately launched another scheme, stealing nursing home patient identities and submitting phony bills on their behalf.

"Health insurance programs trust providers to bill honestly for medical services, so it is essential to punish doctors who betray that trust," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.