LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Southern California woman who, along with her doctor husband, billed insurers $44 million for unnecessary cosmetic surgeries was sentenced Friday to eight years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
Linda Morrow, 70, also was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution. She pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit health fraud and contempt of court.
Morrow and her husband, David Morrow, ran The Morrow Institute, a surgical clinic in Rancho Mirage in the California desert near Palm Springs.
Prosecutors said that between 2007 and 2011, the Morrows billed insurance companies for procedures that were listed as “medically necessary" but in fact were merely cosmetic.
Tummy tucks were listed on paperwork as hernia repair or abdominal reconstruction, authorities said. Nose jobs were recorded as correcting a deviated septum. Breast jobs were supposedly to fix a “tuberous breast deformity.”
The case that involved recruiting patients — many of them public employees — with good insurance policies they could exploit.
Patients were promised free liposuction, nose jobs, breast augmentation and vaginal rejuvenation for free if they helped fudge the paperwork by signing “testimonial” letters or declarations with false statements.
While major insurers such as Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Cigna Health Insurance were listed as victims, local school districts were defrauded of more than $15 million, prosecutors said.
The Morrows fled the country in 2017 following their indictments but were later arrested in Israel and deported.
David Morrow, 77, currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. He was stripped of his license as a plastic surgeon.