Nine and a half years after the Weekly's R. Scott Moxley broke the story about well-known AIDS
doctor George Steven Kooshian having injected patients with saline and vitamins instead of the expensive drugs they were billed for, the 59-year-old was sentenced Monday to 15 months in federal prison.
Kooshian–who operated clinics under the
names Valley View Internal Medicine Group at two locations in Garden
Grove and Ocean View Internal Medicine Group in Laguna Beach and Long
Beach–was also ordered to pay
$660,955 in restitution to 18 insurance companies for 21 patients who
The physician had charged patients up to $9,000 for each shot and used his earnings to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included a five-bedroom,
17,500-square-foot, ocean-view, Newport Coast mansion and fleet
of cars (a black Z8 convertible BMW, a maroon Mercedes SUV, a silver
Mercedes sedan and three Porsches).
Himself gay, Kooshian had performed numerous acts of undeniable kindness to gay patients and Southern California's gay community at large. But he stole from the sick, gay people he treated.
FBI agents in 2005
used the results of Moxley's years of reporting on Kooshian as
the basis for criminal charges brought against the unrepentant doctor.
Moxley suffered threats of violence from anonymous callers, contempt
other media outlets, bitter letters to the editor, angry denials from
Kooshian and promises
of a libel lawsuit from his lawyers.
But Kooshian indicated last year he would plead guilty to two counts of health care fraud
and two counts of making false statements relating to health care
matters. He specifically admitted that he and
his assistant improperly billed patients' health insurance companies
for medications used to treat problems relating to AIDS, HIV and
The medications included Epogen, which is used to treat
anemia; Interferon, which is used to treat Kaposi's sarcoma; and
Immunogammaglobulin, which is used to treat peripheral neuropathy or
numbness of the extremities.
The FBI discovered false bills were submitted for full doses of the medication when patients were
subdosed, and for medication administered in the office by
medical personnel when patients were actually self-injecting at home.
Co-defendant Virgil Opinion, 50, of
Anaheim, who was Kooshian's assistant for more than 10 years, pleaded
guilty to participating in the scheme and in September was sentenced to
three years of probation and ordered to pay the restitution jointly