Podiatrist temporarily banned from practicing medicine

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Milwaukee podiatrist with a record of defrauding patients is now banned from practicing medicine -- at least temporarily. The action comes six months after a FOX6 investigation exposed the doctor's deceptive practices.

It's rare for state regulators to call a podiatrist a threat to the public, but Dr. John Lanham is unlike any other podiatrist in Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee-area doctor is notorious for surprising patients with bills of $5,000 to $10,000 or more for a single office visit.

Lanham wouldn't talk with FOX6 News last winter, but he spoke in court on Tuesday.

"I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding on the part of some of my patients," Lanham said.

Lanham appeared before the state Podiatry Board to defend himself against charges of "unprofessional conduct."

"I have never tried to fraudulently bill in order to gain income for myself or my practice," Lanham said.

Bonnie Kofsky is one of 10 patients whose complaints form the basis of the state's complaint against Lanham.

"He's making a fool out of me.  A fool out of me and every other claimant. When this happened to me, I vowed I would do whatever it took to try and make sure this doesn't happen again," Kofsky said.

Kofsky was a key source for FOX6's investigation, which found Lanham billing patients for questionable things, like $500 for a flimsy pair of food inserts.

The state also accused Lanham of misleading patients into thinking their procedures will be covered by insurance -- something FOX6 News caught him doing on hidden camera.

Lanham now admits he is not a part of any health insurance network.

"My office manager and I answered truthfully that we did take their insurance, however we did not expound on the patient's question," Lanham said Tuesday.

The state warned him last fall that was deceptive, but FOX6 News found him and his staff doing it three months later.

Faced with the loss of his license, Lanham says he's changing his ways.

"I have made changes to the way I run my practice and I am willing to make additional changes," Lanham said.

To that, the state board's prosecuting attorney offered a four-word response: "Too little, too late."

The Podiatry Board's emergency suspension of Lanham is temporary. It is designed to prevent him from practicing while the state prepares to hold a hearing on the allegations against him.

That hearing will happen in the next 30 to 60 days.

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