Whistleblower speaks out about Asante settling Medicare fraud allegations

MEDFORD, Ore.– Only NBC5 News is hearing from the whistleblower who accused Asante of Medicare fraud.

The ‘Lund Report’ broke the story Tuesday, that one of Asante’s highest paid employees was accused of billing patients for unnecessary procedures and procedures he didn’t do.

Dr. Nicholas Engstrom filed the whistle blower lawsuit in 2020 and said its one of the most difficult things he’s ever done.

He said that he understands why other staff didn’t come out against Asante, based on how he was treated.

In the suit, Dr. Engstrom, a cardiothoracic surgeon who worked at RRMC, claimed Dr. Charles Carmeci billed for procedures he didn’t do, as well as unnecessary procedures.

Engstrom said he became aware of the alleged fraud after nursing staff who still work there told him about Carmeci’s alleged actions.

When Engstrom notified his superiors, he said he was retaliated against and forced out.

The ‘Lund Report’ said the FBI investigated the allegations in the lawsuit and the federal government then joined the suit to recoup funds.

In October, Asante and Carmeci reached an undisclosed settlement with the government.

No criminal charges have resulted from this investigation to this point.

Dr. Engstrom said he hopes the nurses and staff that knew what was happening and were fearful of Asante, will come forward now.

In a written statement, Dr. Engstrom told us:

“I would hope that the nurses and staff that knew what was happening and were fearful of the organization would come forward. I was told of these concerns by nursing staff that still work there. I was always disturbed that they didn’t come forward.”

Dr. Engstrom told NBC5 News that this is a chapter in his life he’d like to forget.

We reached out to the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office to see if they are still actively investigating, we have not heard back.

We also reached out to Asante for comment, but didn’t hear back.

Dr. Carmeci is still listed online as a physician at Asante.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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