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Conflicting portraits painted of physician awaiting fraud sentence

He stood before the court in his prison overalls and shackles. Humbled by his Medicare fraud conviction, Dr. Salomon Melgen conceded at his sentencing hearing that he had made mistakes in his personal life and asked the judge for mercy.

As regular readers of our Austin Legal Issues blog know, Melgen was convicted last year on 67 counts of Medicare fraud. In a separate trial, the ophthalmologist faced bribery charges along with his friend, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. The judge in that case declared a mistrial in November.

Prosecutors in the Medicare fraud case are asking the court to impose a 30-year sentence on the 63-year-old eye doctor for his "horrendous and horrible crime." Defense attorneys countered by pointing to the many former Melgen patients who testified on his behalf or sent supportive letters to the court. They also said the government's attorneys had only shown that Melgen misappropriated $64,000, rather than the tens of millions they claimed he bilked from Medicare.

According to a news report, the defense attorneys are asking for a short, unspecified sentence for the physician who is in declining health. They also pointed out that a long sentence would be essentially a life sentence for a doctor who, they say, devoted himself to restoring sight to patients.

Melgen said in his statement that he hopes the court will "see the full picture of who I am" before it passes sentence. "I know I made mistakes but it was always my intent to help my patients."

If you are a doctor who faces investigation by the FBI or other agencies, you can speak with an attorney with extensive health care law experience.

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