News - Russell J. Ellicott

For providing foot care to the dead

This guy must be a miracle worker. For the last seven years, Russell Ellicott, an Augusta podiatrist, has practiced his craft on local patients. Now, a federal grand jury has determined that some of his customers didn't actually, um, have feet. Others, it seems, weren't technically, you know, alive.

According to the U.S. attorney's office in Savannah, the good Dr. Ellicott, who owns the Augusta Foot Center, had submitted Medicaid claims for treating several patients whose feet had been amputated — in one case, amputated nine years before Ellicott supposedly provided the foot care. In other cases, the doc charged Medicare hundreds of thousands of dollars for working on the feet of people who were post-mortem for as long as a year. Perhaps they broke a toe when they kicked the bucket.

State and federal investigators weren't impressed with Ellicott's Lazarus-esque clientele and decided to make a federal case of it. The grand jury charged him with Medicare fraud, along with 21 counts of "making false statements related to a health care matter." Yeah, we'd say. Apparently, the bogus bills he submitted between January 1997 and June 2002 totaled more than $400,000.

Ellicott had been providing services to patients in nursing homes around Augusta and throughout eastern Georgia. We can see where it'd be tough to give up on a loyal customer simply because he or she died.

If convicted, Ellicott could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to having to return the government's money.

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