Va. man is charged in fake inspections

He was supposed to check hospital X-ray machines used in mammography

July 24, 2004|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

A Fredericksburg, Va., man hired to inspect mammography machines and other devices for nearly 15 years in Maryland and elsewhere was masquerading as a medical physicist and had no idea how to do some aspects of his job, federal authorities say.

No patients are known to have been harmed at Harbor Hospital Center in Baltimore and 52 other facilities at which Perry M. Beale worked as a consultant, authorities said. They said that other safety checks were in place to prevent that.

Beale, 50, a consultant whose hospital and other clients often paid him by mail, was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Va., with 38 counts of mail fraud. He was released on a $25,000 bond after turning himself in to federal authorities Thursday morning, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said in a statement.

Beale waived his right to a grand jury and told a judge in open court that he intends to plead guilty to all counts, the statement said. He could not be reached yesterday.

Brownlee said Beale is accused of duping officials at the 53 facilities, including North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie, into believing he was qualified to do the inspections.

He also is accused of lying about his education and falsifying a document that showed him to be certified in radiation physics by the American Board of Radiology, Brownlee said. Besides Maryland, the facilities were in Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

In some instances, Beale never appeared at the facilities he was supposed to inspect, Brownlee said. Rather, Brownlee said, Beale would create false documents at home and report a passing score.

Federal law requires inspections to ensure the machines don't emit too much radiation and produce accurate images.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration official said the agency has no indication at this point that any patients were harmed. A spokesman for Harbor Hospital Center and Harbor Family Care, both located in Baltimore, also said patients shouldn't worry.

"Our equipment is routinely inspected by multiple organizations, including the FDA and the American College of Radiology's accreditation process," said John Marzano, a spokesman for Harbor Hospital's parent, MedStar Health. "Based on current information, the activities of the individual in question posed no health risk to mammography patients in our facilities," Marzano said.

Patients with questions about their testing can call the U.S. attorney's office, 866-737-0710. The call is toll-free.

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