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Hospital execs take note: If job in jeopardy, criminal charges could follow

Healthcare executives who have recently lost their job or who are currently under review are wise to take the matter seriously. In some cases, these actions are signs of a bigger problem: a federal investigation. The federal investigation could result in concerns of wrongdoing and potentially lead to criminal charges.

Why would a problem with my job be a sign of a potential criminal investigation?

If hospital administrators or others within the group get word of a federal investigation, they may choose to act against anyone involved in the investigation. In a recent example, a former vice president of a healthcare center in Wisconsin was fired and now faces criminal charges. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused the former executive of partaking in a scheme that resulted in over $3 million in losses in a kickback arrangement that used a marketing agency to inflate invoices. As part of the agreement to work with this agency, the exec would then receive payments from the funds received due to these allegedly inflated invoices.

Upon review of the evidence gathered by the prosecution, the exec agreed to accept a plea deal and has plead guilty to criminal charges for wire fraud and tax charges. Sentencing is to occur at a later date, but could include imprisonment and hefty financial penalties.

Although this most recent case is based in the Midwest, it is important to note that the same could, and has in the past, play out in other states — like Texas. This example was chosen because it is the most recent, the DOJ announced the charges September 1,2021. The charges and investigation are federal in nature and apply to every state throughout the country.

How can I protect myself in these types of situations?

It is often helpful to conduct an internal audit on a regular basis. The rules that regulate healthcare are constantly evolving and a proactive approach can better ensure compliance. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing practices.

Those who get notification of an impending investigation or lose their jobs and are concerned that criminal charges could follow are wise to act to protect their interests. This is not something you need to go through alone. Legal counsel experienced in this niche area of the law can advocate for your interests and better ensure a more favorable outcome.