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Ex California hospital owner sentenced for huge fraud

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- The former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach is going to prison for helping bilk the government in a $600 million fraud scheme.

Seventy-three-year-old Michael Drobot was sentenced Friday to 63 months in prison and must forfeit $10 million to the government.

Federal prosecutors say that Drobot paid $40 million in kickbacks to doctors and other medical professionals who referred thousands of patients to his hospital for spinal surgeries. Some patients lived hundreds of miles away.

Authorities say Drobot billed some $600 million to state and federal workers compensation insurers for the surgeries.

Seven other people have pleaded guilty in the case.

In addition, former state Sen. Ronald Calderon is serving a federal prison sentence for accepting bribes from Drobot to help preserve certain insurance legislation.

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