A Medicare Fraud Strike Force investigation has led to the arrest of two Chicagoland doctors and at least five others. The seven individuals have been arrested on several federal charges, mainly Medicare fraud. These seven Illinois residents were just part of a larger group of 89 medical professionals who were arrested as part of the investigation. In addition to the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, the investigation was conducted with the help of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Justice department.
According to these authorities, these individuals perpetrated a variety of healthcare fraud. They are accused of a range of crimes from falsely billing Medicare for services that were never rendered, for charging for prescriptions that were never written and for offering kickbacks to employees who were willing to help in the schemes. The government alleges that some of the claims that were made would have been impossible because of staffing or patient issues. At least one of the accused has proclaimed his innocence and vows to plead not-guilty to the charges.
As can be seen by the size of this investigation, the force of the U.S. federal government is immense. They have access to resources far beyond what most individuals can afford which makes it all the more important that people accused of federal crimes have a proper criminal defense strategy. Otherwise, people can get lost in the system and end up paying for it with very severe penalties.
In this case for example, those facing healthcare fraud charges can be fined up to double the amount of loss that occurred to the government or $250,000. Furthermore, healthcare fraud has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison per charge. On the other hand, the kickback charges carry a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
By Robert Kerr
Source: FBI.gov, “Federal Medicare Fraud Strike Force Charges Chicago-Area Defendants with Defrauding Medicare and Other Health Insurers,” May 14, 2013