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Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The former billing supervisor of Louisiana Spine & Sports Medicine, shown here at 4545 Bluebonnet Blvd., has been ordered in federal court to pay more than $200,000 in restitution in a fraud case.

The former billing supervisor at a Baton Rouge pain management clinic was put on federal probation Wednesday and ordered to pay $254,000-plus in restitution for her role in a fraudulent billing scheme.

Charlene Anita Severio, 56, faced a possible prison term after pleading guilty in February, but Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick found that the Walker woman was "manipulated and controlled" by Dr. John Eastham Clark, a former owner and medical director of Louisiana Spine & Sports on Bluebonnet Boulevard.

Clark, 66, pleaded guilty earlier this year to health care fraud conspiracy and was sentenced Friday to 37 months in federal prison and ordered by Dick to pay nearly $255,000 in restitution.

Severio, who pleaded guilty and health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, acknowledged to the judge Wednesday that what she did was wrong but said she's "not an evil person."

"I'm not proud of what I did. I don't have the words to tell you how remorseful I am," said an emotional Severio, who will be on probation for two years.

Clark and Severio were accused of falsely telling Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield that minor surgical procedures happened the day after an office visit so the clinic could be reimbursed for both the visit and the procedure.

Severio's attorney, Michael Fiser, described Clark as the captain of the ship and Severio as a deckhand. He told Dick there was a "huge power disparity" between Clark and Severio.

Federal prosecutors say the scheme resulted in nearly $516,000 in fraudulent claims over 10 years beginning in 2005.


Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.