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FALLS DOCTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD AND TAX, DRUG OFFENSES

A Niagara Falls doctor faces prison time and hefty fines after pleading guilty to fraud in federal court Friday.

Joseph DiChiara, 50, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin to health care fraud, failure to pay withholding taxes and obtaining possession of a controlled substance by fraud, said U.S. Attorney Denise E. O'Donnell.

The plea ended an investigation by a Western New York task force on health care fraud, prosecutors said.

DiChiara, while operating a Jamestown medical practice in 1997 and 1998, billed Medicare over $5,000 for services that were either not performed or were done by a student practitioner and could not be reimbursed by Medicare, prosecutors said.

In addition, DiChiara failed to pay more than $46,000 in employment and payroll taxes during that period. He also fraudulently obtained controlled substances by writing prescriptions in others' names.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 11.

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