Kentucky doctor gains internet fame after Huntington Trump rally

By By Lacie Pierson
Staff writer
Gazette-Mail photo
Dr. Richard Paulus became a social-media sensation during President Donald Trump’s rally in Huntington on Thursday night.

HUNTINGTON — A Kentucky doctor who recently was acquitted of federal fraud charges became somewhat of an internet star following a Thursday night rally hosted by the President Donald Trump in Huntington.

Dr. Richard Paulus could be seen behind and to the right of Trump, wearing a black T-shirt and a red baseball cap that said “Make America Great Again.” He excitedly cheered for Trump, raising his fists in the air, high-fiving people sitting around him, and at times appearing to yell “We love you,” and “That is right,” in response to Trump’s comments during the rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

It didn’t take long for people throughout the country to notice Paulus’ enthusiasm.

“LOL! This guy is all of us at a Trump rally! RT if you agree! #MAGA #WestVirginia,” tweeted the USA Association, a conservative grassroots organization based in Jacksonville, Florida. That tweet, which included a video of Paulus, was retweeted 850 times as of 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Paulus’ enthusiasm also was noted by “Fox and Friends” hosts Friday morning.

Prior to attending the rally Thursday, Paulus was indicted on 11 counts of fraud in September 2015, with federal prosecutors stating he performed medically unnecessary heart procedures, including catheterization and inserting stents, on patients at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Kentucky, between 2008 and 2013, according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky. U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said Paulus would then bill Medicaid, Medicare and patients’ private insurers for the needless procedures.

In the indictment, Harvey said Paulus performed more cardiac stent placements for Medicare patients than were performed by all of the cardiologists at either the University of Kentucky or University of Louisville health care systems, making roughly $2.5 and $2.6 million annually in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Paulus made $1.7 million, and he made $692,197 in 2013.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure received an anonymous grievance alleging fraud, abuse and negligence against Paulus in November 2012, according to the indictment.

He retired from King’s Daughters effective July 31, 2013, according to the indictment. Paulus’ medical license has been inactive since 2014, according to Board of Medical Licensure records, and Paulus and the board entered into an agreed order of retirement, which was filed Nov. 7, 2014.

In October 2016, Paulus was convicted of needlessly performing the procedures and charging insurers, and Paulus sought acquittal shortly thereafter, with his attorney, Robert Bennett, arguing federal prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence in the case, according to the Ashland Daily Independent.

In March 2017, Paulus was acquitted of the charges, and his previously scheduled April 25 sentencing hearing was canceled.

The Independent also reported King’s Daughters Medical Center agreed to pay the government $40.9 million to settle claims, but hospital officials admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to internal reforms.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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