When a doctor becomes a local or national celebrity, that makes federal charges of health care fraud all the more visible in the media. Besides the possibility of massive fines and even prison time, the damage to a physician’s reputation due to federal charges can last the rest of their career.
For example, a physician outside of New York known for his diet book and involvement in mixed martial arts is facing numerous charges related to alleged Medicare fraud, money laundering and wire fraud to the tune of $120 million. Investigators allege that the doctor marketed himself as a diet guru as a front for a kickback scheme involving overprescribing opioids and billing Medicare for unnecessary procedures.
Charged with trading tests for pills
Specifically, the doctor is charged with conspiring with his patients, many of whom were addicted to opioids, to defraud Medicare. He allegedly would charge Medicare for unnecessary injections and tests on his patients. In exchange, he would provide the patients with medically unnecessary drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone, prosecutors say. They describe the doctor as the largest prescriber of oxycodone in Michigan in 2016 and ’17.
Before his legal troubles, the doctor self-published a book on obesity that highlighted his weight-loss plan. To promote the book, he paid “other on his behalf’ to promote mixed martial arts stars and retired fighters. Prosecutors say all of this was a front to hide the profits from his Medicare scheme.
Doctors must defend themselves
As with all federal and white-collar crimes, Medicare fraud charges like these must be taken seriously. Even less severe charges than the ones outlined here could result in stiff penalties and the loss of your license to practice medicine. Even if the charges do not result in a conviction or guilty plea, you could face the stigma of merely being accused of a crime.
Your best chance of retaining your freedom and your reputation is to retain a defense attorney with substantial experience with health care fraud.