Allegations of wrongdoing are concerning, but how serious can they be if they involve money and only money? The government and court system are not likely to push for too serious of a penalty if the accused did not cause physical injury, are they? This is especially true if the individual facing the charges is an otherwise upstanding citizen with a noble profession like a nurse, pharmacist, technician, or physician, right?
These thoughts are dangerous and can give the person facing such accusations a false sense of security. The reality is that these charges are very serious and can come with harsh consequences. Not everyone that finds themselves in this position handles the accusations well. Two recent cases provide examples of what not to do when facing these kinds of charges.
#1: Use shell corporations to hide assets
In a recent example out of Texas, the government claims two pharmacists and a physician worked together to submit almost $200 million in fraudulent claims for expensive prescription medications. The government claims the trio attempted to avoid notice by putting funds into a shell corporation that were then used to bribe physicians and clinic owners.
Shell corporations can serve useful legal interests. In this instance, the government argues the shell corporation in question was used for criminal gain. The accused face allegations of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive healthcare kickbacks, as well as additional charges related to money laundering. If convicted, they face decade imprisonment and additional financial penalties.
#2: Forge documents
In another actual court case that provides an example of what not to do, the government accused a pharmaceutical manager of forging documents. They claim the manager forged the documents to make it appear that the pharmacy had shipped medications to patients. In reality, the prosecution argued the manager had billed government providers like Medicare and Medicaid for medications patients never received.
If successful, the claim could result in conviction for healthcare fraud and a violation of the anti-kickback statute. When faced with the charges, the accused chose to accept a plea deal and awaits sentencing. He could face up to 15 years imprisonment and hundreds of thousands in fines.
Take-away lesson: These charges are serious
Allegations of healthcare fraud can come with harsh financial penalties and potential imprisonment. Do not take these matters lightly. An attorney experienced in healthcare fraud claims can review the government’s case and discuss your options.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.