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By Brett Kelman Pacific Daily News
A psychiatrist from Florida accused of defrauding desperately ill patients of about $400,000 by arranging fake organ transplants in the Philippines was transported to Guam Thursday on his way to the U.S. mainland.
Jerome Howard Feldman was caught in the Philippines last month, according to documents filed in the District Court of Guam.
A warrant of removal signed by District Court of Guam Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan on Thursday ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to deliver Feldman to New York. Yesterday, no one at the U.S. Marshals Service would say if Feldman had left the island or when he would leave.
Feldman faces five counts of wire fraud in a New York federal court. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Feldman also must face charges of health-care fraud, racketeering, money laundering and stolen property filed in Florida between 1999 and 2001, the release states.
According to an affidavit filed in District Court by FBI Special Agent James Lyons Jr., Feldman allegedly deceived people with dying relatives with his Web site, www.liver4you.org. His alleged victims deposited money but received no aid.
One victim, Canadian resident Erwin Benke-Langier, died in the Philippines while waiting for the liver Feldman allegedly promised him under the alias "Dr. Mitch Michaelson."
Michaelson, or Feldman, convinced Langier's wife to wire $37,000 into an account, according to the affidavit. When Langier arrived in Manila, Michaelson never showed up.
Michaelson allegedly told Langier's wife not to ask questions in the Filipino medical community because she would damage a delicate relationship with the medical community and demanded another $33,000 be wired into an account. She did.
On July 11, 2008, Langier died in the Philippines from liver failure without ever receiving a transplant, the affidavit states. His wife was left with a $20,000 hospital bill.
She contacted the New York Police Department about a month later, sparking an investigation that eventually led to Feldman's recent arrest in the Philippines.
The organ Web site -- http://www.liver4you.org -- is still up. The site claims to offer legal kidney and liver transplants from living donors that are performed in the Philippines by qualified U.S. surgeons and sponsored by the government. The site states that the transplants must be performed outside the country and Medicare can't pay for them.
"In the USA it can be financed by selling your life insurance ... or getting a second mortgage," the Web site reads. "Just ask our advice."
The Web site provides readers with four e-mail addresses that have been connected to Feldman, according to the affidavit. The Web site has almost 78,000 hits.
Lyons' affidavit includes the story of another victim who transferred $45,000 to Michaelson in hopes of finding a liver for a loved one last year.
Michaelson told the victim her loved one was on a waiting list and requested another $30,000, but the victim declined and asked for a refund of her original transfer, the affidavit states. Michaelson refused.
Banking records from several accounts allegedly controlled by Feldman suggest he may have deceived about five more people who were looking for transplants, according to the affidavit.
Feldman's e-mail records show that his family was aware of his alleged scheme, he sent them some of the money that was transferred to him and that his wife may have helped him flee from police, according to the affidavit.
"It is harder than puling teeth to get money out of people even if they face severe health problems or even death, without my help," Feldman allegedly wrote to his son, Travis. "I am trying to get another $30,000 from the above person. But it ain't a sure thing."
Feldman's alleged crimes don't start in the Philippines or New York.
According to Lyons' affidavit, Feldman first was arrested in Belgium in 1968 and charged with issuing false checks, using a false identity and swindling.
And Feldman became a fugitive in 1999 after failing to appear in a Florida district court, the affidavit states.
Feldman was charged with health-care fraud in Florida because he allegedly sought Medicare reimbursement for medical and psychiatric services he never performed. He was paid almost $2.7 million for almost 7,000 false claims, the affidavit states.
In 2001, a Florida court also charged Feldman in relation to the resale of stolen pharmaceuticals. Feldman allegedly profited by almost $2 million from the illegal purchase and sale of stolen goods during 1998 and 1999.
Lyons' affidavit states that Florida authorities told him their investigation revealed Feldman used a "sophisticated method" of moving money, including wire transfers.
"Since in or about late 1999, federal and state investigators in Florida have attempted to locate the whereabouts of Jerome Howard Feldman," the affidavit states. "However, these efforts have been unsuccessful."
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