A federal jury in Houston, Texas convicted two men of 20 counts of Medicare fraud and conspiracy after a 7 day trial last month. Both men now face 200 years in prison when sentenced in early 2015.
Prosecutors say that Dr. Dennis Branson and his clinic administrator, Dario Juarez, orchestrated a scheme to defraud Medicare of $2.1 million. They say the men were billing for “rectal sensation tests” and anal EMGs that were never performed. A third defendant pleaded guilty in October before trial. Prosecutors say the third man, Edgar Shakbazyan, had conspired to pay kickbacks to patient recruiters.
Although Branson was the doctor, Juarez presented himself as a doctor and actually saw patients. In just two months the duo racked up over $2 million in Medicare billings. On just one day, the two men claimed to have treated or examined 156 patients.
In a rather unusual move, Dr. Branson claimed that he was the victim of identity theft and that he committed no crimes. The jury didn’t see things that way, however, and convicted him on all counts of the indictment.
Some folks incorrectly believe that Medicare fraud is a victimless crime. Unfortunately some of the patients seeking help never even saw a real doctor. The doctor, and his clinic director, were obviously more interested in making money than helping cure sick patients.
Medicare fraud is a multibillion dollar industry. The FBI arrests and prosecutes new schemes every week yet the fraud continues. The best lines of defense against these schemes, however, are concerned healthcare workers. Whistleblowers.
Under the federal False Claims Act and many state Medicare fraud laws, whistleblowers that report Medicare fraud can receive up to 30% of whatever the government collects from wrongdoers. To qualify, you must have original source information meaning the information you supply must not have been previously disclosed in court hearings or the press. (There are some limited exceptions.)
If you know of any healthcare providers or clinics using patient recruiters or paying cash to get patients to visit the clinic, there may well be fraud going on behind the scenes. Patient recruiters and Medicare fraud often go hand in hand.
We believe that whistleblowers are America’s true healthcare heroes and not only save taxpayers money but save lives too. This year the Justice Department and courts have paid out $435,000,000.00 in whistleblower awards under the False Claims Act. How can we help you collect the next award?
Need more information? Contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in complete confidence.