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Convicted skin doctor starts early on sentence

As a hearing continues, a judge agrees that the Medicare-scamming dermatologist might flee.

By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published July 8, 2006


TAMPA - Michael Rosin still doesn't know how many years he will spend in prison, but he got his first taste of incarceration Friday.

In March, a federal jury found Rosin guilty of health care and Medicare fraud for falsely diagnosing patients with skin cancer and then performing unnecessary and invasive surgeries.

Rosin posted his $2.6-million Sarasota home as bond for his bail following his conviction and was allowed to remain free until his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William J. Castagna.

Rosin's first hearing was June 6. The final hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but lawyers didn't complete their cases and it spilled over to Friday.

When 5 p.m. Friday came and major issues were still unresolved, Castagna continued the sentencing until Aug. 22.

That's when Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Ho asked Castagna to revoke Rosin's bail and put him in jail. With the reality of a prison sentence looming, Rosin was more likely to flee, she said.

"He has significant funds at his disposal to leave if he decided to do that," Ho said.

Castagna sided with prosecutors and ordered Rosin to jail.

Rosin's attorney, Joel Hirschhorn, appeared surprised by the judge's decision and strenuously objected. His client has surrendered his passport and the bulk of his fortune - $6-million - was seized by the government, Hirschhorn said.

Rosin took a few minutes to comfort his wife, who kissed him on the cheek. Then he handed over his belt and tie and accompanied U.S. marshals out of the courtroom.

After the hearing, Hirschhorn said Rosin still hadn't grasped the gravity of his situation.

"He was not particularly helpful during the proceeding because he's frozen in time," Hirschhorn said. "Anyone who sits where he sits feels like he's at a movie."

Rosin was once among the most respected dermatologists in Sarasota. But many of Rosin's patients became suspicious when he repeatedly diagnosed them with skin cancer and performed a surgery known as Mohs, a procedure that requires removal of layers of tissue. The more layers of tissue he removed, the more money he got in Medicare reimbursements.

Rosin once based a diagnosis on a slide sample that was actually chewing gum instead of human tissue, according to court testimony.

In another case, he looked at a slide showing a sliver of Styrofoam and determined that the patient had "very aggressive" cancer requiring next-day surgery.

Jurors found Rosin collected at least $3.2-million in Medicare payments for performing unnecessary surgeries on dozens of patients. He could face at least 30 years in prison.

At the sentencing hearing Friday, Hirschhorn called several character witnesses for Rosin. Among them was Frida Crewdson, a longtime family friend who said Rosin was "like a son to her." Rosin also performed surgery on her to remove what she believed to be skin cancer.

Later in the hearing, prosecutors revealed the results of Crewdson's biopsy taken from Rosin's office. They said it showed no sign of cancer.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at 813 226-3416 or cweimar@sptimes.com.

[Last modified July 8, 2006, 01:11:14]


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