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Med examiner who cleared thousands of truckers charged with issuing fake certifications

Update, 12/20: The DOT says truckers affected by the Lefteris’ arrest will be notified via mail that they need to be re-certified within 30 days. See further CCJ coverage at this link.

An Atlanta, Georgia-based medical examiner has been arrested and charged by federal investigators for allegedly issuing medical certifications to truck drivers without performing full medical exams, according to court records. Dr. Anthony Lefteris, who operated out of an Atlanta-area Petro truck stop, could have issued certifications to thousands of truck drivers.

The DOT has not said whether truckers who received medical certification from Lefteris will need to be recertified and, if so, the deadline for doing so. CCJ will publish that information when it becomes available. The DOT has added a note to Lefteris’ listing in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners telling drivers not to schedule appointments with him. The note says Lefteris is no longer certified to perform the exams.

Lefteris could have issued certifications to more than 8,000 truckers since the FMCSA’s medical examiner registry rule took effect in 2014, based on the average number of certifications prosecutors allege Lefteris issued per month.

Lefteris issued about 360 truck operators a month, DOT investigators allege in an affidavit filed to a U.S. District Court in north Georgia. Most examiners only perform 13 to 14 a month, prosecutors say in the affidavit.

He was arrested Dec. 1 and has been granted a public defender, court documents reveal. Lefteris has not yet made a plea in the case, but he is due back in court Dec. 20. Charges against him include eight counts of false writing/documentation of the DOT’s exam forms and false entry into DOT records with the intend to impede and influence.

Officers from the U.S. DOT and the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Lefteris in September, according to court documents, following a written statement from a driver who said Lefteris gave him a medical certification but didn’t perform any tests or examination procedures, even after the driver told him he had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

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Three undercover officers, all of whom hold a Georgia-issued CDL, later visited Lefteris’ office at different times, according to court records. In all three instances, Lefteris granted the officers medical certification without performing all tests required, according to a sworn affidavit submitted by the officers. Lefteris failed to perform vision and hearing tests, urinalysis, blood pressure check or heart rate test, officers allege.

Prosecutors say Lefteris uploaded MCSA-5875 (the forms used by medical examiners) to the DOT for all three officers with fake numbers recorded in fields meant for the urinalysis, the vision and hearing exams, pulse and others.

Officers also performed surveillance outside Lefteris’ office during the investigation, court documents reveal. An affidavit submitted to the court alleges that on Nov. 9, 2016, officers saw 12 people enter Lefteris’ office and about eight leave. When agents went inside to ask Lefteris’ questions regarding the morning’s visitors, they discovered he’d failed to perform urinalysis on those patients, too, officers claim.

Federal law requires examiners to perform all of the tests Lefteris allegedly skipped when examining the undercover officers. The urinalysis is not for drug testing but to test protein, blood and sugar in urine, “which may be an indication that further testing is needed to rule out any underlying medical problems that impact a driver’s ability to drive safety,” prosecutors said in the complaint against Lefteris.

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James Jaillet is Senior Editor for Overdrive and the Commercial Carrier Journal. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.