A federal judge sentenced a Miami-area psychiatrist to 10 years in prison this week. The defendant must also repay more than $51.9 million as restitution. The sentence concludes a massive health care fraud conspiracy prosecution.
According to federal prosecutors, the defendant worked within a larger conspiracy that ultimately submitted more than $200 million fraudulent Medicare claims. The government accused this defendant of lying and signing numerous false documents attesting to in-person treatment of the facility's patients. Apparently the defendant, along with other participants, never had face-to-face contact with patients but merely submitted paperwork indicating that he had.
Although the jury convicted the defendant of federal crimes, it did so only on conspiracy grounds. Conspiracy charges allege only that a defendant made an agreement to do something illegal. The jury did not convict the defendant of other fraud charges but the consequences were still severe.
This was only one of many cases within the larger conspiracy. More than 30 other people faced fraud charges and the courts have worked through about half of those prosecutions. The conspiracy operated for eight years through hundreds of employees and other participants. A second sentencing occurred in the case on the same day. Another conspirator will also serve 10 years in prison and will pay even more restitution back to Medicare.
The defendant plans to appeal the conviction and lengthy sentence.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "Weston doctor imprisoned for healthcare fraud in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale," Paula McMahon, Oct. 1, 2012