Catholic priest turns major whistleblower revealing excessive catherizations, awarded $2.7 million

The Catholic priest was one of the key whistleblowers in the Redding Medical Center heart surgery scandal — the first to allege unnecessary heart procedures including heart catheterizations by the Chief cardiologist

The Rev. John  Corapi received a heart catheterization in 2002 along with other tests from the hospital’s cardiology chief, Dr. Chae Hyun Moon. The doctor insisted he needed immediate open-heart surgery, Corapi said in court documents and in interviews.

Corapi told investigators he postponed the surgery for a week and traveled to Las Vegas, where four heart specialists tested him, examined him and told him he was perfectly healthy.

Corapi notified the FBI.

In October 2002, acting on Corapi’s allegations and other complaints of unnecessary procedures, a team of FBI agents raided the Butte Street hospital.

The scandal drew national headlines and a “60 Minutes” expose, sent the stock of the hospital’s parent company, Tenet Healthcare Corp., tumbling.

In subsequent years, Tenet, the doctors and their insurance companies paid out a half-billion in criminal and civil settlements. No charges were ever filed and the doctors maintained their innocence.

Moon’s medical license was stripped by the Medical Board of California in 2007.

Two cardiac surgeons, Kent Brusett and Fidel Realyvasquez Jr., were placed on probation by the medical board, but were allowed to keep practicing.

The hospital since has twice been sold, and its name was changed to Shasta Regional Medical Center.

In 2005, Corapi was awarded $2.7 million in a whistleblower suit.

Corapi remains a popular speaker and author, who had Catholic television, Internet and radio programs before he was placed on leave. He’s a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, a Texas-based Catholic order.