By William Kates
The Associated Press
SYRACUSE, New York (AP) — A fugitive American, who claimed he was a psychiatrist, will be returned to upstate New York to face federal charges in which he took $70,000 for a bogus promise of a liver transplant in the Philippines, a federal prosecutor said March 19.
Jerome Howard Feldman is also wanted by state and federal authorities in Florida on charges he defrauded Medicare and Medicaid programs of more than $2 million.
Feldman, 67, was arrested Feb. 2 in Manila, acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Baxter said. He had been a fugitive sought by the FBI since 2001, and a federal grand jury in Syracuse indicted him last month on wire fraud charges that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Feldman is accused of duping a Canadian couple, according to the indictment.
The wife found organ transplant information for her husband on the Web site www.liver4you.org and contacted a “Dr. Mitch Michaelson” by e-mail. The doctor convinced the husband to travel to a Philippine hospital to receive a liver transplant.
The couple wired $70,000 into an account in the name of “Alberto Gomez” at a bank in DeWitt. “Dr. Michaelson” promised that the money would cover all medical bills for the transplant procedure.
The husband died July 11, 2008, at a Philippines hospital without receiving a transplant, Baxter said.
Doctors at the hospital told the victim they had never heard of a “Dr. Mitch Michaelson.”
The widow then had to pay $20,000 in hospital fees run up during her husband’s stay.
Investigators determined that “Dr. Mitch Michaelson” and “Alberto Gomez” were aliases used by Feldman, who was arrested while holding a British passport that identified him as Michael Adams. Authorities believe Feldman initially fled to Thailand and stayed there before moving to the Philippines in 2002.
Investigators also found six other victims, but that list could grow. Approximately $400,000 was wired into the Gomez account by victims of the scheme, Baxter said.
Feldman appeared in a federal court in Guam Thursday on immigration charges, Baxter said. Federal authorities will return him to New York sometime in the next several weeks, he said, adding that Feldman does not yet have a lawyer.
Feldman faces federal health care fraud charges in the Middle District of Florida from 1999 and racketeering, money laundering, and stolen property charges filed by Florida in 2001.