O&P Practitioner Sentenced for Paying Gratuities for Federal Purchases
September 13, 2021
Bruce Thomas, owner and operator of Pinnacle Orthopedic Services, Germantown Maryland, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release, with four months of that to be served in home confinement, for paying gratuities to a public official in exchange for official acts. Thomas must also pay a fine of $50,0000 and forfeit and pay $27,890.62 in restitution.
According to Thomas' plea agreement, Pinnacle provided O&P materials to the O&P department at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in return for more than $20 million in payments.
Thomas provided David Laufer, the chief of the Prosthetics and Orthotics Department at Walter Reed, with cash, airlines flights, meals, entertainment, and other benefits because of Laufer's connection with the purchase of O&P items from Pinnacle. In exchange, Laufer undertook official acts in connection with the gratuities including sending multiple purchase requests obligating at least $14.75 million to Pinnacle and personally ordering and causing to be ordered material from Pinnacle.
Laufer also restricted the availability of purchase agreements to some of the manufacturers and distributors from whom Pinnacle purchased products, thereby inhibiting those companies from doing business directly with Walter Reed, and actively encouraged and directed those companies to sell to Walter Reed through Pinnacle. As detailed in Laufer's plea agreement, he knew that having the other companies sell to Walter Reed through Pinnacle would result in a higher price to the government.
In 2020, Laufer pleaded guilty to acceptance of gratuities by a public official and faces a maximum of two years in federal prison. He is awaiting sentencing.