Originally created 03/03/05

Doctor wants records expelled



Attorneys for an Augusta podiatrist asked a judge Wednesday to throw out key evidence in a Medicare fraud case because the foot doctor didn't know his rights.

Attorneys for Dr. Russell Ellicott, of Augusta Foot Center, argued that prosecutors should be barred from using six years of medical records because they were illegally obtained.

Dr. Ellicott testified that an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation intimidated him into handing over 25 boxes of medical records from his patients on Oct. 3, 2002.

Those records were used to indict the foot doctor on one count of Medicare fraud, 21 counts of making false statements relating to health care matters and 160 counts of mail fraud.

The indictments allege that he submitted false billings and collected government checks for foot care not rendered to nursing home patients between 1997 and 2002.

On Wednesday, the doctor said GBI Agent Brian Queener and two other officers visited his office in 2002, interviewed him and then demanded to take his records. He said he never saw two subpoenas related to the records until after the documents were taken and didn't realize that he could have waited a day to provide the records.

"Agent Queener demanded that we give him records from the clinic," Dr. Ellicott said. "I'm thinking I'm going to jail right now if I don't provide them these records."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Kramer presented evidence Wednesday that Dr. Ellicott was shown the subpoenas, which explained his rights.

Agent Queener testified that the physician asked them not to take records of his active patients and they agreed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield did not rule on the defense motion. He will review written arguments before deciding whether to suppress the records.

Dr. Ellicott has previously pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.