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Psychologist off to prison Neal Putnam | Sat, Jun 15 2013 12:00 PM

A clinical psychologist from Chula Vista has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for falsifying medical certifications to the U.S. government and was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the Social Security Administration.

Dr. Roberto J. Velasquez, 56, was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bond and will surrender to prison by July 12. U.S. District Court Judge Barry Moskowitz set the restitution figure of $1,509,257.81 on May 29, according to court records.

Velasquez, who worked out of a National City clinic, certified on records that dozens of patients were disabled when they were not and he made up patient histories so he could get a $200 kickback per patient, according to the U.S. attorney.

“Rather than exercising his professional medical judgment to help his patients, this defendant corrupted the integrity of the system in order to line his own pockets, said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a press statement.

Velasquez admitted he submitted fraudulent medical reports to the Social Security Administration and some patients received disability payments but were not disabled. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 2, 2012, to two counts of immigration fraud and Social Security fraud.

The fraud was uncovered through an undercover operation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration.

“The egregious nature of this crime, facilitated by a trained, qualified clinical practitioner …cannot and will not be tolerated,” said David Butler, a special agent with the Social Security Administration.

“When brought to our attention, we will aggressively investigate all individuals who are paid and trusted by the government to provide material information concerning an individual’s benefit eligibility,” said Butler.

Velasquez surrendered his passport when charges were filed in April 2012.

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