by Brian Mahany
Two back to back tales of horror from Atlanta. Just a few hours ago we posted a story of a Medicare fraud case in Atlanta. A radiology group agreed to pay almost $4 million to settle accusations that they prescribed unnecessary radiation treatments to prostate cancer patients. If bilking the government isn’t bad enough, giving false hope to cancer patients and making some suffer through extra weeks of radiation certainly is. But things get worse in Atlanta. Much worse.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office convicted 63 George Houser of running a house of horrors – three houses of horror to be exact. A federal judge convicted Hauser of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid and not paying taxes. When we read of charges of “submitting claims for worthless services” or failure to pay taxes one might get the idea these are victim crimes. In Hauser’s case there were hundreds of victims – all elderly nursing home residents.
Prosecutors say that Hauser used Medicare and Medicaid money that was supposed to go for patient care to buy real estate to build a hotel. Patients were left hungry.
“It almost defies the imagination to believe that someone would use millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid money to buy real estate for hotels and a house while his elderly and defenseless nursing home residents went hungry and lived in filth and mold,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. She wasn’t alone in condemning Hauser’s behavior. “To see nursing homes residents subjected to such horrendous conditions, while Mr. Houser used Medicare and Medicaid funds as his personal piggy bank, is a travesty,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The judge wasn’t very kind in his words either. He found “a long-term pattern and practice of conditions at Defendant’s nursing homes that were so poor, including food shortages bordering on starvation, leaking roofs, virtually no nursing or housekeeping supplies, poor sanitary conditions, major staff shortages, and safety concerns, that, in essence, any services that Defendant actually provided were of no value to the residents.”
That’s two horror stories in Atlanta within the last week. How were the feds finally able to stop these abuses? The answer is simple – in large part because of whistleblowers.
Houser’s downfall came in part because he became so greedy that he bounced paychecks on employees and allowed their health insurance to lapse. While he purchased a $1.4 million house, some of his own workers were suffering from no way to pay their own medical bills. Unhappy employees are often the first to turn in their deadbeat employers.
We believe that whistleblowers are the modern day version of superheroes. Whether motivated by civic duty, anger or a desire to collect an award from the court, these folks are coming forward in record numbers. By standing up to corruption, coming these folks save taxpayers millions of dollars and sometimes save even save lives.
No one wants to be a snitch but by keeping quiet, these fraudsters are allowed to keep up their crimes while others suffer. The federal false claims act allows ordinary people to become whistleblowers and collect a percentage of whatever the government recovers. You have to act first, however, in order to collect and must file a complaint in federal court.
For some the legal hoops seem intimidating but they don’t need to be. If you have the information, chances are we can find a way to put it to good use and get you paid.
The anti fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl represent victims of fraud and whistleblowers. We currently represent the whistleblower in the largest federal mortgage and banking fraud case in the nation, HUD’s $2.4 billion case against Allied Home Mortgage. Large or small, we can help you become a hero.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. We proudly give victims and whistleblowers a voice throughout the United States. Offices located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Services available in many jurisdictions.