By Larry Keller
The scope of the criminal health care and wire fraud case against Delray Beach osteopathic doctor Michael Ligotti is so vast that his trial has been set for May 23 of next year — nearly two years after his arrest and seven years after federal and state agencies began investigating him.
The federal government intends in pretrial discovery to produce billing data and files for more than 10,000 patients treated at Ligotti’s defunct Whole Health medical practice in Delray Beach, and more than 50 sober homes and substance-abuse treatment centers.
Patients’ identities must be painstakingly protected, “making redaction of all patient identifying information burdensome and time consuming,” prosecutors and Ligotti’s lawyer stated in a joint motion filed in U.S. District Court asking for the distant trial date.
Prosecutors also plan to review bank records of at least 51 accounts related to Ligotti, Whole Health and other entities and credit card statements, according to court documents. The number of records to be reviewed is “voluminous,” the parties say, and a trial may take weeks.
Ligotti was charged last July with fraudulently billing private insurance companies and Medicare of around $681 million, for which they paid $121 million over a span of nine years. A federal grand jury indicted him in December on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and money laundering.
Ligotti is free on a $1.5 million bond that requires him to be electronically monitored and observe a curfew.
The government alleges that in addition to operating his medical practice, Ligotti became the medical director of sober homes and treatment facilities and orchestrated a scheme whereby he profited from unnecessary but lucrative urine and blood tests of insured patients.
Meanwhile, in February, Ligotti and his wife sold for $5.1 million the seven-bedroom home on Seagate Drive in Delray Beach where they lived with their three children. That’s less than the $5.7 million at which it was listed, but well above the $3.3 million they paid in 2014.
The couple had two mortgages totaling about $3.8 million on the house. An agreement stipulated that after the mortgages and any other encumbrances were paid, net proceeds would be placed with the U.S. Marshals Service because the property would otherwise be subject to forfeiture if Ligotti is convicted.
A second six-bedroom home owned by the Ligottis on one acre in Delray Beach is on the market for $850,000, with the same provisos as the other house if it is sold. The building that housed Ligotti’s medical practice has been for sale for several months.
In another development, Ligotti has replaced his original attorney with Jose Quiñon of Miami. Quiñon’s clients have included Medellin cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder, Miami-Dade politicians accused of corruption and police officers and attorneys charged with an array of crimes. Ú