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November 12, 2021

Florida Laboratory Owner Sentenced to 82 Months in Prison for COVID-19 Kickback Scheme

Leonel Palatnik, co-owner of the diagnostic testing laboratory company Panda Conservation Group LLC (Panda), was sentenced to 82 months in prison for a scheme to defraud the United States through kickbacks by exploiting telehealth waivers issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Palatnik and his fellow co-owners of Panda allegedly conspired with Michael Stein, owner of 1523 Holdings, to pay kickbacks in exchange for Stein connecting Panda with telemedicine providers who wrote thousands of medically unnecessary genetic testing orders sent to Panda’s labs. The telemedicine providers then billed Medicare for telehealth consultations, some of which never occurred. Palatnik pleaded guilty to two counts: one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and offer kickbacks, and one count of paying a kickback. Palatnik and Stein were charged as part of a coordinated action to combat COVID-19 related health care fraud in May 2021. Stein is still awaiting trial.