Edmonton doctor sentenced to four years in prison for fraudulent billing of $827,000

Yifei Shi, a 35-year-old Edmonton family physician, was sentenced to four years in prison on November 17 in what could be one of the largest doctor bill fraud cases in Canadian history. Shi pleaded guilty to fraudulently billing Alberta Health for his services. In 2016 he surpassed $827,000 and was ordered by King’s Court Judge Paul Vergil to pay the Alberta Government in full.

The doctor was arrested by Edmonton police in April 2021, Paid There is one fraud over $5,000 and one theft over $5,000. She was accused of fraudulent charges in a scheme dating back to her 2013, Admitted I was scammed in 2016.

According to a statement of agreed facts obtained by CTV News Edmonton, Shi claimed “psychiatric counseling for nearly every patient she saw,” but often did not provide those services. .

She continued to treat patients at a general family practice in West Edmonton after she was indicted, but her $582,000 earnings were deposited by Alberta Health to repay the state government.

Shi’s attorney, Kent Teskey, told the court that his client had regrets and continued working “knowing the money would be withheld.” Crown initially sought five years in prison. Teskey asked the court to be more lenient, sentenced her from 24 months to 30 months in prison, saying, “She has been serving patients. are highly appreciated.”

“She showed grace with this plea,” he said. “This is a very unique scam, but a very unique criminal here.”

Teskey pointed out in court that many of her victim impact statements endorsed doctors, including describing her as a “kind and caring doctor.” Some patients say she felt betrayed, and many feel stranded without medical care, she wrote.

‘Greed’ blamed for overcharging

Prosecutor Megan Rosborough told the court that the doctor “was a mature individual with the privilege of working in a job earning more than $500,000 a year.”

“She had every advantage in life: education, wealth, great job. added Mr.

Government lawyers say the amount of overcharges is so high that “few doctor embezzlement cases across Canada are comparable.” Crown said the only apparent motive was “pure greed”.

“Shi often charged for more than an hour of ‘psychiatric counseling’ with patients for visits that, according to the patients, lasted 10 to 15 minutes,” the agreed statement said. “She may have offered some services that might have fallen into that norm, but she has never given a psychiatric They charged me for counseling.”

In fact, Shi claimed $1.38 million in 2016. That’s more than four times her annual income for the average family doctor in Alberta (about $306,000 a year). That year, she claimed her 216 days of work, of which her 208 days were spent at least eight hours of psychiatric treatment, she claimed.

Alberta Health’s billing structure allows physicians to work under the honor system by using specific codes to bill for specific services. Alberta’s public service fee model relies on “individual doctors reporting honestly and charging for their services,” according to court documents.

The agreed statement of facts states that $827,077 of the $1.38 million Shi claimed was fraudulent. She had used a code from a psychiatric service to charge the system at a higher rate. The first allegation was that Shi claimed fraudulent claims from her $3.5 million to her $4.1 million.

Marnie Cathcart


Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.