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More fraud charges in connection with South Florida health clinic

Allegations of white collar crime are rarely as simple as prosecutors would have us believe, and these cases can drag on for some time because of their complexity. Sometimes an investigation pulls in innocent parties only tangentially related to the case. Such issues may arise after the arrest of four individuals with ties to a South Florida mental health facility.

The facility’s medical director, who is also a psychiatrist, now stands accused of taking part in an alleged Medicare scam that federal authorities believe netted $7.5 million in illicit funds. In particular, prosecutors claim the psychiatrist and three others -- two administrators and a patient recruiter -- conspired to file false claims for unnecessary psychiatric treatment. 

The judge hearing the case set the bond for the 53-year-old psychiatrist at $600,000, which is twice what the Justice Department attorneys requested. The judge also ordered the psychiatrist to pay $45,000, nonrefundable, to his bond.

The doctor’s attorney noted that his client only earned $1,250 per month as he worked part-time for four years at the clinic, but the judge was not swayed.

In 2013 the chief executive officer and three other employees of the same health facility were found guilty of committing health care fraud over a nine-year period. That trial resulted in a 25-year sentence for the CEO.

Clearly, allegations of fraud can have exceptionally negative repercussions for defendants in the medical field. In high-profile cases that involve large amounts of money, emotions often run high. It is nonetheless important to ensure that the rights of the accused are protected. Zealous police and prosecutors will pursue the harshest possible consequences for the accused, and individuals facing charges have the right to an equally aggressive defense.

Source: Miami Herald, "Federal agents round up South Florida doctor and others in Medicare fraud takedown," Jay Weaver, May 12, 2014

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