BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A local gynecologist and cosmetic surgeon charged with 31 felonies including grand theft and making false claims for health benefits appeared in court Monday, as did two others charged in connection with the alleged scheme.
Dr. Jason Paul Helliwell, Brandon Williams and Tambra Head were arrested earlier this month. Their scheduled arraignment Monday was postponed to Oct. 3.
According to a District Attorney’s probable cause declaration filed in connection with the court case, two insurance companies reported alleged billing fraud on the part of Helliwell in 2013.
Investigators later alleged Helliwell was involved in at least two more fraud schemes, the probable cause declaration filed by the DA’s office says.
The first scheme involved an in-house allergy testing machine where former employees said Helliwell ordered “frequent, and likely unnecessary, allergy tests on patients that had no complaint of allergy symptoms,” according to the DA’s declaration.
The second allegation says Helliwell set up an arrangement with a toxicology lab to send patients for unnecessary lab testing, the court filing says. The test consisted of a urinalysis to detect lead and mercury.
But also included in the testing — and which patients weren’t aware — was a comprehensive drug panel for illegal drugs for which patient insurance companies were billed $1,000 by the lab, according to the DA’s declaration.
A former employee said Helliwell was involved in a kickback scheme with a representative from the lab where he received $20 to $25 for each patient who got tested, the declaration says. Another former employee reported the lab provided and paid for an additional personal medical assistant for Helliwell.
The court filing says, “Billing information provided by the respective insurance companies, additional interviews with patients and lab employees, as well as electronic communications obtained during the initial investigation support the allegation.”
Williams, identified in the declaration as the representative from the toxicology lab, is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, soliciting or referring for insurance fraud, grand theft and making false claims for health benefits.
Head, Helliwell’s biller during the time period where the alleged crimes occurred, is charged with multiple counts of making false claims for health benefits, court record says.
Last month, District Attorney investigators searched Helliwell’s office at Advanced Women’s Health Center.
In July 2018, Helliwell was placed on 42 months of probation by the state Medical Board following multiple allegations of misconduct.
Helliwell performed breast augmentation surgery on a woman in 2013 whom he first met when they arranged a sexual encounter, according to the Medical Board Allegation. They had a relationship in which Helliwell paid her for sexual services, the Medical Board filing says.
Both that woman and another patient experienced complications after undergoing procedures by Helliwell, according to the documents. One patient developed a high fever, pain and swelling and was admitted to a local emergency room with sepsis.
Helliwell’s terms of probation included attending an ethics course and monitoring by another licensed physician who submits quarterly written reports evaluating his performance.