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NY Fertility Doctor Found Guilty

January 10, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ A doctor was convicted Tuesday of defrauding insurance companies by billing them for surgeries that never took place in order to provide women with fertility treatment.

Prosecutors had told jurors that Dr. Niels Lauersen pocketed $2.5 million illegally between 1987 and 1997. Dr. Magda Binion, an anesthesiologist, also was convicted for working with Lauersen in the scheme.

Lauersen, 64, an obstetrician and gynecologist, issued a statement saying: ``It is not only a sad day for me, personally, it is a sad day for women’s health care, and for couples everywhere who are striving to overcome their medical disabilities and conceive a child.″

Speaking with reporters, Lauersen’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel said the verdict had ``disturbing social implications. Insurance companies in this state are doing anything they can to deprive women of their God-given right to bear children.″

A message left with a lawyer for Binion was not immediately returned.

Last year, a jury deadlocked in the first trial of the prominent Park Avenue doctor.

Christine Chung, an assistant U.S. attorney, argued that Lauersen cheated insurance companies by charging them for surgeries that never took place. He did so, she said, to prevent companies from learning that he actually was performing fertility procedures they would not pay for on women seeking to have children.

Shargel cast his client as a pioneer of health for women, a man who had no wife and children of his own because he was busy treating 14,000 women, delivering 3,000 children in one year alone.

The insurance companies, Shargel alleged, were refusing to cover the costs of fertility procedures necessary for childbirth, ``acting as if procreation is a privilege of the rich.″

Even before the verdict was read, several of the dozen or so women he had treated began crying as they sat in the courtroom. Their sobs increased as the verdicts were read.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley did not set a sentencing date on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy, health care fraud and mail fraud, allowing Lauersen to remain free on $5 million bail.

Both defendants face up to 10 years in prison on the most serious charge.

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