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A former University of Rochester Medical Center departmental administrator has admitted to being involved in schemes that cheated the university out of more than $2 million.
Debra Bulter on Tuesday pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. A onetime URMC Department of Anesthesiology program administrator, Bulter could face up to 30 years in prison and be hit with fines totaling $500,000 for her role in schemes to fraudulently divert payments to two anesthesiologists.
Under terms of a plea agreement Bulter inked with federal prosecutors, she would face up to seven years in prison followed by one to three years of supervised release and pay a fine between $12,500 and $125,000.
U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci could override the plea bargain to sentence Bulter to more or less stringent penalties. She is slated to be sentenced in November.
According to an indictment filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Rochester, Bulter signed phony contracts in her department chair’s name and created a dummy company, DJA Solutions LLC, to funnel money to herself.
In phony contracts inked annually between 2010 and 2012, two doctors falsely promised to do $3 million worth of extra administrative work, the indictment states. Bulter “improperly” signed the pacts and hid their existence from the anesthesiologists’ practice group and URMC officials.
In one scheme detailed in the indictment, the two anesthesiologists—not so far criminally charged and identified in court papers only as doctor one and doctor two—received payments totaling $930,000. In a second scheme, the doctors got fraudulent payments totaling $1.9 million.
To compensate herself, Bulter separately arranged for the two doctor’s anesthesiology practice to pay DJA Solutions $1.2 million.
The scheme was apparently uncovered by the university as part of a routine audit.
A June 12 memo sent by UR president Joel Seligman, UR chief financial officer Ronald Paprocki, URMC CEO Bradford Berk M.D. and Michael Goonan, URMC CFO, to all of the university’s deans, department chairs, faculty and administrative officials said the anesthesiology scheme appeared to be an isolated incident but that to guard against any repeat of such frauds new, more stringent financial controls would be exercised over high-value transactions.
“Department chairs and supervisors play a pivotal role in ensuring the integrity of our system of financial management and we will take strong disciplinary action against those who provide lax oversight in the future,” the memo stated.
Asked to comment on the two anesthesiologists’ status, URMC spokesman Christopher DiFrancesco said in an email that the anesthesiologists are no longer practicing at the medical center.
“Dr. Doron Feldman and Dr. James Foster are no longer caring for patients at URMC,” DiFrancesco said. “Feldman still holds a faculty appointment as Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.”
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