According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, the charges and other information presented in court, Eppelbaum, 54, licensed to practice medicine in Georgia, operated the “Atlanta Institute of Medicine and Rehabilitation” (“AIMR”) and the “Pain Clinic of AIMR” in Buckhead.
In 2004, Eppelbaum created the “Back Pain Fund,” a purported charitable organization that he controlled both directly and indirectly. Eppelbaum, through the Back Pain Fund, paid for Medicare patients to travel to Atlanta to receive medical treatment from his practice, then travel to Florida to visit a local hot spring for approximately four days, before returning to Atlanta to receive additional treatment.
Eppelbaum was the primary donor to the Back Pain Fund and paid the vast majority of its operating expenses. Eppelbaum tried to disguise his financial control over the Back Pain Fund by entering into an arrangement with the Torah Day School of Atlanta, a Jewish Day School in the North Druid Hills area, whereby the parents of students attending the Torah Day School were instructed to make their tuition checks payable to the Back Pain Fund instead of to the school, and in turn, Eppelbaum repaid the Torah Day School for the amount of the tuition, plus an additional 25 percent.
Eppelbaum entered into similar arrangements with other organizations, and even caused patients who were treated at his medical practice to make their checks payable to the Back Pain Fund. Between 2004 and 2009, Eppelbaum treated hundreds of Back Pain Fund patients and received approximately $16 million for their treatment from Medicare.
Eppelbaum also utilized the Back Pain Fund as a vehicle for committing tax fraud. Between 2006 through 2008, Eppelbaum deducted as charitable donations all the payments he made to the Back Pain Fund, the Torah Day School, and other organizations with which he had a financial arrangement, even though Eppelbaum derived substantial personal income from treating Back Pain Fund patients.
Eppelbaum evaded approximately $1 million in federal income taxes through his scheme.
“Our Medicare system is
premised on the ability of patients to make a choice about their doctor and
their treatment without undue interference, and our tax system is based on each
taxpayer paying his or her fair share,” said Yates in a news release
“The defendant cheated both systems by illegally enticing his patients with gifts and then evading paying taxes on the substantial income he earned from treating those patients. His choice to practice fraud along with medicine has earned him substantial time in federal prison.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia supplied information for this story that was edited for publication.