A doctor in Illinois was recently convicted of health care fraud, identity theft and lying about the delivery of medical treatment in a case involving $3.5 million worth of fake operations.

The 65-year-old doctor was a pain management specialist and the owner of a Chicago medical center. From 2005-2009, he also scammed insurance companies out of at least $783,000 — his negotiated fees for numerous surgeries that he never actually performed. Prosecutors were able to prove that he not only ordered his staff to send insurers the bills for the fake surgeries but also falsified patient information on at least two occasions. When he found out that investigators were looking at him, he instructed his billing director to “purge” the files on various patients and lie.

Now that he’s been convicted, the doctor is facing the potential of 79 years in prison. He will be sentenced in March, likely after the court has time to evaluate sentence recommendations from both the prosecution and defense.

The interesting thing to note about this case is that the doctor didn’t act alone. He involved ordinary members of his staff in the fake billing. He also had his billing director lie for him and destroy evidence. All of these actions are crimes.

It’s likely that the hapless employees did what their boss asked simply because he was the boss. Doubtless, they didn’t want to lose their jobs by refusing — and they might have thought that they wouldn’t be held responsible for doing what the boss said.

That’s not how it works. While the news article didn’t say who else faced legal trouble over the fraud, there’s a strong likelihood that all of those people found themselves in precarious legal positions. Some may have agreed to testify against their employer in order to avoid prosecution themselves — and some may yet face prosecution.

If your employer has pushed you into illegal acts, an attorney who handles white collar crimes and insurance fraud can help you understand your options. Be proactive. Much more is at stake than your job.

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