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Former Pa. doctor convicted of medicare fraud

November 22, 1996

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A former Mercersburg doctor faces up to seven years in prison after being convicted Friday of Medicaid fraud, officials said.

A three-man, nine-woman jury took less than an hour to convict Steven S. Cohen, formerly of Mercersburg, said Jeffrey L. Craig, deputy Attorney General for Pennsylvania.

Cohen lost his Pennsylvania medical license last year. He faces several civil suits filed by patients who claim he addicted them to prescription drugs, Franklin County Court records show.

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This week at Dauphin County Court in Harrisburg, Pa., jurors heard from Cohen's patients, Craig said.

Patients testified they didn't see Cohen on the days when medical bills were submitted in their name for payment by Medicaid, Craig said.

Patients testified their signatures were forged, Craig said.

In all, Cohen submitted $28,000 in fraudulent bills from November 1991 to January 1994, Craig said.

He was paid for about 1,500 office visits that never occurred, Craig said.

Cohen submitted bills on days when the office was closed due to snow and when he was out of town, Craig said.

Cohen's sentencing by Judge Joseph H. Kleinfelter has been set for Jan. 6, Craig said.

He faces a maximum of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

The Pennsylvania Board of Medicine revoked Cohen's medical license on Aug. 22, 1995, said board spokesman David Hixon. It had been suspended since November 1994.

The license was revoked for unprofessional conduct, improper dispensing or prescribing of medications and personal use or addiction, Hixon said.

Cohen failed to conduct exams before prescribing medicine and failed to maintain patient records, Hixon said.

Under the law, he can apply for a new Pennsylvania license in 2000, although there is no guarantee it would be granted.

Craig said Cohen has moved to Hagerstown.

There is no telephone listing for him and the Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance has not issued him a medical license, a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, Cohen faces civil trial in Franklin County.

Tina Cline says Cohen got her addicted to prescription painkillers with which he injected her for back pain in 1992 through 1994, court records said.

Cline claims a dirty needle Cohen used infected her with Hepatitis C, which her husband has contracted from her, records said.

Cline was happy about Cohen's conviction.

"It was just tears of joy now that he can't hurt anybody else and take advantage," she said. "It will never be over for me because this disease I have now has no cure."

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