Kissel and LaFontaine’s practices actually led to the death of one patient:LaFONTAINE and KISSEL, along with several coconspirators including doctors who worked at LRMA, engaged in four different types of fraud at the clinic:
• LaFONTAINE performed procedures which were billed as if they had been performed by licensed physicians.
• LRMA billed cosmetic procedures as medically necessary procedures so that health insurance companies would be duped into paying for them.
• KISSEL and LaFONTAINE submitted claims to health insurance companies for procedures that were never performed.
• KISSEL and LaFONTAINE exaggerated insurance claims by increasing the number and complexity of procedures.
KISSEL and LaFONTAINE were indicted in March 1998 with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. KISSEL was extradited from Canada in 2008 and pled guilty on September 4, 2009.
In imposing the maximum sentence permitted by law,Judge CHIN rejected KISSEL's claims of "ignorance and dumbness"and found that he "acted out of greed." He also stated that his crimes "led directly to the death" of JOEL CUNNINGHAM, who died on January 8, 1998, while undergoing an outpatient abdominal liposuction procedure at LRMA. CUNNINGHAM had wanted to become a NYPD police officer, but was too heavy to meet the entrance standards. He decided to have a liposuction procedure at LRMA,which used extensive advertising claiming that it was operated and supervised by a "world renowned surgeon," when in fact it was operated and supervised by KISSEL and LaFONTAINE. Evidence presented at a subsequent wrongful death suit in state court indicated that Cunningham had died of complications from anesthesia, which had been administered by an LRMA anesthesiologist who was at the time on professional probation due to drug and alcohol abuse.