ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s highest court Friday overturned a Circuit Court decision and allowed the Maryland physicians’ board to revoke a Baltimore doctor’s medical license without holding a hearing.
The Maryland Court of Appeals found that no hearing is needed, since the doctor does not deny that he is guilty of fraud and of immoral conduct as a physician.
The board revoked Stanley Felsenberg’s license after the U.S. District Court sentenced him to jail in December 1995 for billing health insurance companies for physical therapy treatments performed by his unlicensed staff.
The Maryland State Board of Physician Quality Assurance considered this “moral turpitude,” an offense that under one section of Maryland law would require the board to pull the doctor’s license without a hearing.
However, fraud is specifically listed in another part of the Maryland code as an action that allows a doctor to plead his case to the board. This section of the code says the board would then vote on an appropriate punishment that could range from a fine to license revocation.
Felsenberg’s lawyer, Richard Butchok, successfully argued in Baltimore County Circuit Court that since fraud falls into the category of specific crimes of dishonesty warranting a hearing, it should not be considered in the general code dealing with moral turpitude.
“His crime is one of those exceptions to the general rule,” Butchok said.
But the board’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Thomas W. Keech, said the code is perfectly clear that a hearing was not needed.
“The case shows there has been a gradual tightening of legislation dealing with professional ethics,” Keech said.
Felsenberg pled guilty in 1995 to filing $200,000 of fraudulent insurance claims. He was sentenced to one year in prison and one year of supervised release by the federal court. He has finished serving his sentence. -30-