Former Sherwood Park family doctor sentenced to house arrest for fake house call billings

·2 min read
Vincenzo Visconti's former medical practice in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton. (Google - image credit)
Vincenzo Visconti's former medical practice in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton. (Google - image credit)

A Sherwood Park family doctor who permanently lost the right to practise medicine two years ago has been sentenced to one-year of house arrest after pleading guilty to fraudulent billing.

Vincenzo Visconti admitted in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench Wednesday that he submitted $17,504.26 in false claims to Alberta Health for phoney late night home visits.

"It's important that we're able to trust our doctors not to cheat the system," Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon said. "When they do, it must be considered very serious."

She suggested Visconti was motivated by greed. Justice Paul Belzil agreed.

Visconti, 64, was indefinitely suspended by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons in April 2018 when the college found his practice "represents a continuing risk to patients."

His licence to practice was permanently cancelled in January 2019 as the college cited him for writing "drastically" high rates of opioid prescriptions.

According to an agreed statement of facts read aloud in Edmonton court Wednesday, Visconti was under surveillance on June 18, 2015, when he claimed he completed 33 home visits between 10 p.m. and midnight.

"During that time frame, he was observed to attend 13 residences," the court document states. "The observed stops were very brief in duration and mainly consisted of the accused simply dropping something off in the resident's mailbox."

The same pattern was repeated on Jan. 28, 2016. Visconti later billed for 27 house visits, but observers only saw him go to five houses with the same mailbox drop-offs.

RCMP arrested him on March 7, 2018, and he spent the night in custody. Despite having no opportunity to make house calls because he was behind bars, Visconti later billed Alberta Health for 30 home visits he claimed to have conducted on that night.

Ordered to repay Alberta Health

The Crown called Visconti's breaches of trust planned and deliberate. Snowdon suggested a sentence between 18 months to two years less a day of house arrest along with community service.

Defence lawyer Kent Teskey conceded Visconti had breached the public's trust by his actions, but said his client should receive credit for the guilty plea. He suggested a conditional sentence in the range of six to 12 months.

"Our system is under stress and when we do end up with a guilty plea, it's something that has to be acknowledged," Justice Belzil said.

He ordered 12 months of house arrest along with 60 hours of community service to be performed during the first half of his sentence.

The court also ordered Visconti to pay back $17,504.26 to Alberta Health.