On April 11, 2019, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced the formal sentencing of Dr. Edward R. Hills to 188 months of federal incarceration. Restitution will be determined at a later date.
Hills was the former chief operating officer and interim chief executive officer of MetroHealth Hospital System in Cleveland, Ohio. In this capacity he also served as director of MetroHealth Dental, which supports a postgraduate dental residency program.
Last year, Hills and his subordinate conspirators, Drs. Sari Alqsous, Yazan B. Al-Madani, and Tariq Sayegh, were convicted in federal court trial. Their sentencing is scheduled for later this month.
The government proved Hills criminally guilty of conspiracy to defraud the hospital and others through a series of bribes and kickbacks. The various unlawful schemes centered mostly on the hospital’s dental program.
The dental residency program typically had an annual pool of 40 to 60 applicants, from which four to six were selected. Selected candidates were very often foreign nationals, especially Jordanian, who were required to pay a “donation” for consideration.
Alqsous, Al-Madani, and others received full salary and benefits for working at MetroHealth. But for much of that time, they really were working at their private practices. This is similar to how organized crime corrupts labor unions by establishing “no-show” jobs for mob associates. Hills awarded them maximal financial bonuses for “service” to MetroHealth.
Making matters worse, dental residents were expected to provide patient dental care at the co-conspirators’ private practices for no pay. The residency program also operated an unlawful mechanism to refer Medicaid patients to their private practices. In an attempt to disguise their actions, kickback checks to Hills were written as “consultation fees” or “professional fees.”
Alqsous paid the rent and other expenses for an apartment for Hills’ female associate. In 2013, Hills instructed Alqsous to purchase furniture for the apartment. In a text message from Alqsous to his boss Hills, Alqsous stated, “I bought your bedroom yesterday… there is mirrors everywhere… You will like it.”
Hills, Alqsous, and Al-Madani also conspired to obstruct justice by instructing people not to cooperate with law enforcement investigations after they learned of the federal investigation in 2014.
“Dr. Hills violated the trust of taxpayers and the leadership of a hospital dedicated to serving the least among us,” said US Attorney Justin Herdman. “Dr. Hills earned this prison sentence by putting his greed above all else, soliciting and taking cash, rent payments, plane tickets, an expensive briefcase, and other items as bribes.”
“Mr. Hills will now serve his deserved sentence for defrauding our healthcare system,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “The investigation and subsequent prosecution of Hills and his associates revealed these individuals had engaged in a pervasive pattern of fraud, betraying the MetroHealth Hospital System, its employees, and our community. The collective efforts of law enforcement and MetroHealth officials led to the disruption of this destructive illegal deceit.”
Dr. Davis practices general dentistry in Santa Fe, NM. He assists as an expert witness in dental fraud and malpractice legal cases. He currently chairs the Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review Committee and serves as a state dental association member to its house of delegates. He extensively writes and lectures on related matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or smilesofsantafe.com.