xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Former Howard County school board vice chair indicted in California and accused of million-dollar kickback scheme

Howard County entrepreneur and former school board vice chair Brian Meshkin has been indicted in California on federal conspiracy charges that accuse him of a kickback scheme that reaped millions of dollars.

A federal grand jury indicted Meshkin, the former CEO and founder of Proove Biosciences Inc., and eight executives from the genetic testing firm headquartered in Irvine, California. The indictment was filed two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in California.

Advertisement

Meshkin served on the Howard County Board of Education from 2010 to 2014. He did not seek reelection but moved his family to California to devote more time to his company. On his website, he notes that he was the youngest person to win election to the Howard County school board, and he touts an array of biotech and entrepreneurial awards.

Federal prosecutors wrote that his fraud traces back to 2013, the year before he left Maryland. He and the other executives paid doctors kickbacks of $100 to $150 to entice them to order genetic tests from the company, prosecutors wrote.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Proove Biosciences sold genetic tests that were supposed to determine whether a patient was predisposed to an addiction to opioid painkillers. The tests centered on research that genetics influence addiction. As opioid addiction worsened in recent years, doctors and pain clinics used the tests to screen for high-risk patients they said should receive alternative treatments.

The health care news website Stat News reported doubts about the efficacy of the tests as early as 2016. The Stat investigation found Proove Biosciences enticed doctors with up to $144,000 a year in “research fees.” Federal agents raided the California offices in 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Meshkin did not return messages Tuesday. Online court records do not list his attorney.

In the indictment, prosecutors wrote that Meshkin and the others sought to hide kickback payments to doctors by calling the money “clinical research fees.”

Advertisement

At times, Meshkin would withhold the kickback payments as leverage for doctors to order more tests, they wrote. Other times, they wrote, doctors would refuse to order more tests until they received the money.

Proove Biosciences submitted about $45 million in claims to Medicare for genetic tests linked to the kickbacks, prosecutors wrote. Medicare paid the company about $20 million between 2013 and 2017.

In turn, the company doled out at least $3.5 million to doctors, prosecutors wrote.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement