Embezzling Administrator of Pediatric Clinic Faces Health Care Fraud Sentencing

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

An administrator of a Louisiana pediatric clinic has recently pleaded guilty in a health care fraud case. She faces up to 10 years in prison and over $200,000 in fines. The charges allege embezzling more than $500,000 of the clinic’s money and diverting it to her personal account, from approximately August through September of 2014. She allegedly used this massive amount of money to purchase luxury items for herself including jewelry, custom artwork and a motorcycle. Much of the money came from reimbursement the clinic received from the state’s Medicaid program.

The Investigation.

The administrator was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The investigation disclosed that the administrator used a business credit card to charge approximately half a million dollars in personal charges. To pay the credit card bills, teh administrator used money from the clinic’s bank accounts, which included its Medicaid reimbursements. She maintained her front by hiding the monthly statement from the clinic and disguising payments. Her sentencing is set for September 7, 2017.

Embezzlement by Employees Should Be Reported to Law Enforcement and Prosecuted.

We have been consulted by health care practices who have had employees embezzle from them. These should always be reported to law enforcement and prosecuted. Employees that do this will also falsify claims to Medicare, medicaid and health insurers, multiplying your problems.

To read an article I published on embezzlement by health care employees, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in accusations of disruptive behavior, Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“Louisiana Woman Pleads Guilty in Health Care Fraud Case.” The Eagle. B.H. Media Group Inc., (01 June 2017). Web.

“Louisiana Woman Pleads Guilty in Health Care Fraud Case.” The Washington Times. The Washington Times. (01 June 2017). Web.

McKnight, Laura. “Marrero Pediatric-clinic Administrator Pleads Guilty to over $536K in Health-care Fraud.” NOLA.com. (31 May 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for health care embezzlement, legal representation for allegations of health care embezzlement, legal representation for health care employment issues, employment law defense attorney, legal representation for employment conflicts, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for work place investigations, legal representation for investigations against health care professionals, health care fraud attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, reviews of the Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Health law defense attorney, legal representation for OIG investigations, legal representation for HHS investigations, legal representation for false billing, legal representation for health care fraud investigations

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Advertisements

Florida-Based Compounding Pharmacy Violated False Claims Act by Overcharging Tricare, Feds Claim

9 Indest-2008-6By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On July 3, 2017, a compounding pharmacy based in Tampa, Florida, charged Tricare at least 2,000 percent more for drugs than it charged cash payers, according to the government. Teh government claimed that the Florida pharmacy acted in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA), as it intervened in a whistleblower’s suit.

The government claimed that RS Compounding LLC and its owner, Renier Gobea, knew it was illegal to provide discounts to cash payers but not the government. However, the company still went through with a scheme to do it, the partial-intervention complaint says. Prosecutors are seeking triple damages and civil penalties.

The False Claims Act provisions in Tricare cases are a little different from those in Medicare cases. In Tricare cases, recovery can be had for any “fraud, waste or abuse.” It is not limited to just fraud or false claims. Abusive claims can lead to recoveries by the government and by whistle blowers.

The Whistleblower Suit.

The suit was brought forward by former sales representative McKenzie Stepe. She filed her whistleblower suit in December 2013. Stepe’s suit alleges that RS Compounding used the average wholesale price in place of the lower acquisition cost when reporting what it paid for drugs. Additionally, the company then reported the usual and customary cost of the compounded drug to be equal to the average wholesale price, and as a result the government paid more for the drug that it needed to when reimbursing RS Compounding, the complaint says.

Between January 1, 2012, and January 31, 2014, the company was charging cash customers less without telling the government, according to the complaint.

Click here to read the complaint in full.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a Florida pharmacy has allegedly defrauded government programs such as Tricare through compounding activities. The Tricare program is a health care program that provides benefits for U.S. military personnel, their defendants and retired military personnel.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case against Tricare.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Sources:

Kass, Dani. “Fla. Compounding Pharmacy Ripped Off Tricare, Feds Claim.” Law360. (July 3, 2017). Web.

“Florida Compounding Pharmacy Ripped Off Tricare.” Law of Compounding Medication. (July 4, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: False Claims Act defense attorney, FCA legal counsel, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of violating Anti-Kickback Statute, TRICARE false claims legal defense attorney, TRICARE physician representation, legal representation violating False Claims Act, pharmaceutical fraud lawyer, compounding pharmacy attorney, fraudulent practices of pharmaceutical companies, whistle blower lawyer, FCA violations, fraud detection, financial interest in physician referrals, TRICARE fraud attorney, health attorney, defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law firm, fraud investigations, consumer reports of health care fraud, conflict of interest in physician referrals, compound medication prescriptions, compounding pharmacy lawyer, prescription reimbursement, legal defense of military physicians, legal defense of TRICARE providers, attorney reviews of The Health Law Firm, Veterans Administration (VA) physician defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Avoid Being Labeled as a “Disruptive Physician” at All Costs

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Although “old news” at this point, on July 9, 2008, the Joint Commission (TJC) published the following alert to health care organizations:
Sentinel Event Alert;  Issue 40, July 9, 2008
Behaviors That Undermine a Culture of Safety

Intimidating and disruptive behaviors can foster medical errors, contribute to poor patient satisfaction and to preventable adverse outcomes, increase the cost of care, and cause qualified clinicians, administrators and managers to seek new positions in more professional environments.  Safety and quality of patient care is dependent on teamwork, communication, and a collaborative work environment. To assure quality and to promote a culture of safety, health care organizations must address the problem of behaviors that threaten the performance of the health care team.
For the entire text and greater detail on detection, analysis, and prevention, as provided to health care organizations by the JCAHO, you may refer to:  http://www.jointcommission.org/SentinelEvents/SentinelEventAlert/sea_40.htm

This was considered a big flag to hospitals that they should aggressively move to discipline and terminate those physicians in their facilities whose conduct could lead to a label of “disruptive physician.”  Since that time, we have seen increasing numbers of physicians having to defend themselves because they were too demanding, had too high expectations of nursing and hospital staff, had a low thresh hold for incompetence, or just were trying too hard to be sure quality care was provided to their patients.  Often we have seen this type of complaint initiated by nurses on the hospital’s staff who just did not like a physician for various reasons.
The Joint Commissions Alert was a green light to hospitals that they could use the peer review and credentialing process to punish and terminate such physicians.

Physicians Are Easily Labeled “Disruptive”.

Physicians are often unfairly labeled as “disruptive physicians” by hospitals, health care institutions, employers or economic competitors of theirs in a health care setting.  This label can be assigned to the most skilled, compassionate and innocent physician.  Unless immediate action is taken by the physician to counter this false labeling, it may result in extremely serious repercussions, loss of income and tremendous expense.

You Can Be Labeled Disruptive Even With The Best Intentions.

We have seen, first-hand, examples of physicians where attempts were made to label them as “disruptive physicians” for a number of reasons.

An individual can be labeled disruptive:

• For refusing to allow unnecessary and expensive invasive procedures to be performed on patients by another physician in a hospital setting.
• For refusing to provide a drug seeking addict (who was hospitalized after a gunfight with police) with additional narcotics.
• By an economic competitor of a physician, who had been able to obtain election as president of the medical staff in order to drive her off of the hospital staff, thereby eliminating her competition with him.
• By competing medical groups forming an alliance with administrators at a for-profit hospital to label a physician competitor as a “disruptive physician” and enlist the aid of nursing staff to document every alleged transgression of the physician.
• When hospital nursing staff are instructed to scrutinize every act of a surgeon on the staff and to write up every perceived action of this doctor that might possibly be considered to be inappropriate any respect (even “rudeness”).
• Because a surgeon cancelled an elective surgery after the scheduled surgery on their patient was delayed three hours because hospital staff did not come in on time and other surgeries started late.
• Because nursing staff desired to get rid of a foreign physician that the nurses felt did not treat nurses respectfully enough.

Often physicians reacting to protect their patients from other physicians, or who may attempt to correct incompetent nursing staff, are labeled as “disruptive” because of their comments or actions.  Physicians who are somewhat demanding or who are perfectionists (as many, naturally, are), are often unfairly labeled as “disruptive.”  We have seen the most highly skilled sub-specialists, whose only major concern is their patients care and safety, branded as a “disruptive physician” by hospital staff.  We have also seen this occur in smaller, more rural hospitals where the nursing staff may be less than totally competent.

All Physicians Need To Be Aware Of The Risks Of Being Labeled “Disruptive”.

It is extremely important that a physician be sensitive to the possibility of being labeled a “disruptive physician” and the possible consequences this can bring.  It may result in the initiation of peer review proceedings to terminate clinical privileges and medical staff membership.  It may result in a complaint to the state licensing board against the physician.  We have handled a number of cases where complaints were made (even “anonymous” complaints”) to the state impaired physician program, resulting in a long, expensive battle with psychiatric experts and psychologists, in order to refute the allegations.

Immediately Seek Legal Help To Counter Allegations.

It is necessary that any allegation made that insinuates that the physician is a “disruptive physician” be immediately, but objectively, countered.  A neutral, factual rebuttal is often all that is required.  However, sometimes an economic competitor, or an unfriendly hospital administrator, will attempt to push the matter to extremes in an attempt to get rid of the physician, to make his or her job easier.  It may be advisable to obtain the services of an experienced healthcare attorney in fashioning a responsive or even formulating a strategy for a long-term defense in such situations.

It Is Critical To Gather Evidence From Professionals Of Stability.

In some cases, it may be advisable to have our client evaluated by trained psychiatrists and other health care professionals ahead of time, in order to have expert evidence immediately available that the physician does not have a personality disorder or other impairment.  This may be used to head off any complaint to or from the state licensing board or impaired physician program.

Florida Has High Number Of Incidents.

In Florida, especially, we have seen an increase in referrals to the state impaired physician program for allegedly “disruptive physicians” where a cottage industry seems to have arisen in making such diagnoses and preparing treatment and monitoring plans for them.  We have been involved in at least one case where a prominent, successful surgeon was forced to undergo testing, evaluation, and psychoanalysis, while he was excluded by a major hospital, over a course of approximately two years, with the threat of disciplinary action by his state licensing board if he refused to “cooperate.”  Finally, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on the recommended psychiatric and psychological evaluations, and after spending tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, it was decided he had no such problems, he was not a “disruptive physician” and there was no probable cause for any disciplinary action against him.

Legal Action May Be Only Way To Fix a Damaged Reputation.

In some cases, it may even be necessary for the physician to take the extreme measure of suing the hospitals or the individuals who are behind such action.  We have been required to do this on behalf of clients in a number of different cases.  Often, this is the only way to get the truth of the matter out, especially when it related to economic competitors of the physician who may be in control of the hospital’s medical staff.

Hospitals’ Role In Identifying Disruptive Physicians.

We believe that, as a result of the foregoing, we will see a much greater attempt on the part of hospitals to identify and discipline physicians on hospital staffs as “disruptive physicians” through hospital peer review procedures, and through reports to state licensing boards and the organizations that were established to monitor physicians with substance abuse problems (such as the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) in Florida).  Any correspondence, warning, letter or counseling a physician receives that mentions the word “disruptive” or makes such an insinuation, should be taken very seriously by the physician.  It should be responded to immediately, with facts, in an objective and dispassionate manner without attempting to “blame” anyone else.  When in doubt, consult with an experienced board certified health law attorney.

Being Labeled Disruptive Should Not Be Taken Lightly, Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced In Handling All Cases of Disruptive Physician Accusations.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians in cases of the disruptive label.  Being labeled disruptive cannot be taken lightly. This label can go on your record and affect your current and future work as a physician. Contact an experienced Health Law attorney the second allegations are made against you.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Keywords: legal representation for disruptive physician, allegations of disruptive physicians, legal representation for disruptive physician allegations, disruptive physician defense attorney, health care professional defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, reviews of the Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Health law defense attorney, medical staff peer review attorney, clinical privileges legal counsel, medical staff fair hearing defense attorney, peer review legal counsel, hospital fair hearing attorney
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Woman Who Performed Illegal Silicone Injections Sentenced After “Patient’s” Death

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 26, 2017, a Sanford, Florida, woman who performed illegal cosmetic silicone injections was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. According to prosecutors, the illegal procedures done by Deanna Roberts, led to serious health problems and the death of a prominent night club performer.
Illegal Injections.

From reports, Deanna Roberts bought about 178 gallons of non-medical grade liquid silicone between 2004 and 2015. She apparently told officials checking on this that she used the substance to lubricate medical equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite what she told officials, prosecutors said she falsely claimed to be a licensed medical practitioner and illegally injected liquid silicone into at least five people during cosmetic procedures.

Come on, you know that if she purchased 178 gallons of silicone, she must have injected hundreds of patients.

Health Risks of Liquid Silicone.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow liquid silicone to be injected because of the health problems it can cause. Many of her “clients” were hospitalized with respiratory problems and other ailments when the silicone migrated to different parts of the body like their lungs, which is what it does. A prominent Atlanta performer died after the substance moved into her lungs, heart, brain and other organs, only 36 hours after the injection.

Roberts pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Why Don’t Patients Check Out the Credentials of Their Physicians?

Why don’t patients check out the credentials of their physicians? This just seems like common sense. Yet Florida abounds with phony doctors, phony paramedics, phony dentists and others practicing medicine or some other health profession without being licensed or even knowing anything about the field. Is it driven by the expense of medical procedures? To a certain extent it may very well be. It may also be partially explained by a failure of the “patients” to comprehend the possible adverse consequences of what may be viewed as a “minor” procedure. To a large extent, the unlicensed individuals who do this also prey on foreign born immigrants and foreigners, trusting them because they speak the same language.

I think the problem goes way beyond just the lack of licensure of the person providing the medical services. I constantly see cases of licensed medical doctors holding themselves out as experienced practitioners in medical specialties for which they are not board certified. I seen cases where board certified obstetricians/gynecologists are practicing pain management, where family practice physicians are performing plastic surgery procedures, where dentists are running medical spas providing cosmetic laser services, where nurses are performing cosmetic medical procedures, etc.

If you were diagnosed with a brain tumor, would you go to a family practice doctor to have it removed because he didn’t charge as much. If you needed a hernia repair, would you go to the “doctor” at the flea market, because she was so inexpensive? Consumers really need to be more worried about the experience and credentials of their physicians and check them out completely. Neighbors who have “doctors” set up clinics in their homes and garages need to rat these people out. Phony plastic surgeons who only advertise in Spanish on Spanish radio stations need to be reported to the authorities. Florida needs to do more about these unlicensed and licensed, but unqualified, health practitioners.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hayes, Crystal. “Sanford woman sentenced after silicone injection scheme led to drag queen’s death.” Orlando Sentinel. (May 26, 2017). Print.

Eldridge, Ellen. “Woman who killed Atlanta drag queen with silicone injection heads to prison.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution. (May 26, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud investigation representation, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation representation, review of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Health Care Fraud Puts Miami Man in Jail

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

4.5 Year Sentence for Role in Fraud.

A Miami Man voluntarily returned to Miami from Cuba and was immediately met with a 4.5-year long prison sentence.  Jose Gerardo Gonzalez, played a role in a scheme to defraud public schools and private health care insurers of $126 million.

Gonzalez allegedly created shell companies that submitted false health care claims. The private insurers were ultimately at lose for millions of dollars. Gonzalez fled to Cuba in 2015 after being charged with conspiracy and other charges. Upon voluntary return to Florida he is sentencing was reduced.
William Barzee, Gonzalez’s attorney, states its uncommon for fugitives to return once they flee to Cuba.  However, our experience has been just the opposite.  In our experience, quite a few individuals flee to Cuba, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S., after being notified of an investigation of Medicaid or Medicare fraud charges.

The Restitution.

The sentence included 4.5 years in prison and restitution of $13.9 million.  In addition, two properties owned by Gonzalez worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars were been seized.

Conspiracy lead remains in Cuba.

Reynaldo Castillo is considered the conspiracy’s leader “employing” several people. Gonzalez played a role in a scheme to target employers offering “administrative services only” insurance plans to their employees. Gonzalez, along with several other individuals, registered businesses in his or her name and opened bank accounts and cashed checks bilking insurers. Insurers that sustained losses include Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Healthcare.  Gonzalez and 15 other Miami residents were charged. But Reynaldo Castillo is still believed to be in Cuba, avoiding sentencing.

The conspirators submitted false claims to the insurers using medical director staffing companies to misappropriate doctors licensing information.  This is something we are constantly warning physicians against, allowing someone else to use and bill under their name and provider identification numbers.

Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses.  In many cases, those subject to Medicaid or Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter.  Individuals facing Medicare and Medicaid criminal charges should realize the severity of the offense.  Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney as part of the legal team to help defend them.
The government is serious about combating health care fraud.  False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year.  Punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of Medicaid or Medicare fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life.  Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake.  Often a Medicaid Fraud investigation will begin with a notification from the investigator. From that point on, all action to obtain legal representation should be made. The investigator will use all information from that point on against you. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

To read further about the seriousness of health care fraud you can read additional blogs of mine here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicare Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (ALFs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Crosby, Christopher. “Miami Man In $126M Health Fraud Ring Gets 4.5 Years – Law360.”Law360 – The Newswire for Business Lawyers. LexisNexis, 13 June 2017. Web. 03 July 2017.

Keywords: Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, legal representation for fraud, False claims, legal representation, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for fraudulent billing, legal representation for allegation of defrauding the government, legal representation for submitting false claims, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare billing defense attorney, health care clinic fraud audit, legal representation for false billing, legal representation for allegations of unnecessary procedures, legal representation for Medicare audits, reviews of the Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Health law defense attorney

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.