Former doctor in Sherwood Park given house arrest for fraudulent late-night house calls

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An Edmonton-area physician who gave up his medical licence after an investigation found he over-prescribed opioids has been sentenced to house arrest after pleading guilty to billing fraud.

Vincenzo Visconti, a one-time Sherwood Park family doctor, admitted to three counts of forgery in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday.

Visconti admitted to billing Alberta Health for dozens of fraudulent after-hours house calls over three years.

An Alberta Health surveillance team tailed Visconti on three separate nights and found he conducted fewer visits than claimed. More often than not, the visits involved Visconti simply dropping items in a mailbox.

Visconti then billed the visits as house calls on the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), claiming a total of $17,504.26.

Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon said AHCIP is “effectively an honour-based system” that relies on doctors to be honest.


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“It is important that we be able to trust our physicians to not cheat the system,” she said. 

Visconti, 64, surrendered his medical practice permit in October 2018 after admitting to issues with his prescribing and billing practices. He previously operated the Brentwood Medical Walk-In Clinic in Sherwood Park.

A fellow doctor who reviewed Visconti’s practice found Visconti’s use of opioid prescriptions were “drastically higher than other physicians.” Despite updated medical guidance, the reviewing doctor found Visconti’s reliance on opioids for chronic pain treatment “showed a trend of increasing over time rather than decreasing.”

In April 2018, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta took the unusual step of suspending Visconti’s licence prior to holding a disciplinary hearing. The decision led a group of Visconti’s patients to protest outside the Alberta legislature.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed with Wednesday’s plea, Visconti submitted false billings on three occasions.

On June 8, 2015, Visconti claimed to have made 33 house calls, billing Alberta Health more than $6,200. Visconti’s billings claimed all the visits occurred between 10 p.m. and midnight, which allows a physician to claim a higher rate.

However, an Alberta Health surveillance team who followed Visconti found he only attended 13 homes. “The observed stops were very brief in duration, and mainly consisted of the accused simply dropping something off in the resident’s mailbox,” the agreed facts state.


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An additional outing was observed on Jan. 28, 2016. Visconti claimed similar billings on March 7, 2018, despite the fact he was by that point in RCMP custody.

Visconti was initially charged with three counts of fraud over $5,000.

Snowdon and defence counsel Kent Teskey agreed Visconti should serve his sentence in the community rather than in jail.

Snowdon argued an 18-month to 24-month conditional sentence was appropriate, arguing Visconti breached public trust simply to satisfy his own greed.

“He had the education and the means to earn a far better income than most people,” she said. “Despite all of this he made a decision to offend against the public, so he could have even more.”

Teskey argued for a six-month to 12-month conditional sentence. He said Visconti’s decision to plead guilty should be given serious consideration, especially given the court’s resource difficulties during COVID-19.

He added that medical fraud cases that attract two-year sentences tend to be in the half-million-dollar range.

Justice Paul Belzil ultimately settled on 12 months, including six months of house arrest.

“Our court system is under stress,” Belzil said. “When we do end up with a guilty plea, it is something that has to be acknowledged.”

Visconti will be required to pay back the misappropriated funds to Alberta Health.

Teskey said Visconti is “largely retired” but does occasional maintenance work at his wife’s business.


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