Florid Man Strikes Again–Government Asks for Life Sentence for Florida Man in $187M Medicare Fraud Case
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On August 12, 2023, federal prosecutors recommended a life sentence for the Florida ex-CEO of a laboratory company who had been found guilty of fraudulently billing Medicare over one hundred million dollars. At the December 2022 trial of the Florida man, the jury convicted the Florida Man of all ten counts against him, including health care fraud, payment of kickbacks, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was ordered to pay $187 million in restitution.
I have to say it. They need to lock up that Florida man once and for all! I see his wanton actions all over Florida, reported time and time again. Now that Tim Dorsey is deceased (bless his Florida soul) we don’t have a character like Serge Storms to go around and assassinate (at least literarily) such evildoers as Florida man. Will this mean a big upsurge in crimes committed by Florida man?
Specifics of the Health Care Fraud Committed.
From 2016 to 2019, the ex-CEO operated with co-conspirators out of Palm Beach County to conduct a scheme that spanned the entire country. The Florida Man was the CEO of the laboratory company and the architect of the fraudulent scheme. The ex-CEO oversaw and approved every step of the Medicare fraud process.
The Florida Man recruited and bribed patient brokers, directed the use of deceptive marketing techniques, encouraged the use of telemedicine companies that gave approval without consideration, and took measures to conceal the fraud and make it seem legitimate.
The ex-CEO bribed patient brokers, telemedicine companies, and telemarketing companies to contact Medicare beneficiaries and pressure them into taking medically unnecessary genetic tests through his laboratory company.
I would find it hard to believe that such willful and wanton illegal acts occur in the great state of Florida, except that I get about ten phone calls a day from these people trying to hook me into their phony schemes. Well, after this conviction, maybe I’ll only be getting nine phone calls a day from them (unless they allow Florida man unlimited phone calls for such purposes from his prison cell; and since this is Florida, they may well do that!).
He also instructed co-conspirators to go to nursing homes, bingo halls, adult day care facilities, and poor communities in the Atlanta area to pressure Medicare beneficiaries into taking the genetic test.
A single genetic test billed to Medicare could earn the ex-CEO $9,000. In three years, the lab billed Medicare $463 million, of which $187 million was paid out. The Florida Man personally earned $21 million which he spent on luxury purchases, like a Ferrari.
Effects of the Fraud.
The Florida Man exposed Medicare to a fraud where it paid $187 million for medically unnecessary genetic tests; an exorbitant loss. The scheme also confused patients and confounded doctors.
One victim of the fraud was led to believe that the genetic test would tell her if her cancer would return. She took the test and, since it was negative for the mutated gene, she was wrongly led to believe her cancer would not return. Her cancer did return.
Another victim of the fraud tested positive for a gene mutation that they did not actually have. This made their primary care doctor re-bill the genetic test to Medicare to confirm the results. This test came back negative for the gene mutation. The lab’s test was faulty and gave an inaccurate result.
The federal prosecutors argued that the Florida Man preyed on cancer survivors, elderly patients, and people afraid of getting cancer to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from a social safety net.
The government recommended that the Florida Man’s sentencing be considered in decades, rather than months or years, due to the seriousness of the crime and the man’s unwillingness to accept responsibility or show remorse.
During the trial and in post-conviction pleadings, the ex-CEO continuously placed blame on his lawyers, his employees, and the lab directors. He claimed that the kickbacks and bribes were contracts reviewed and negotiated by lawyers and the genetic tests were appropriate and properly signed by physicians.
The government also recommended that the restitution be increased because, even though only $187 million was paid out by Medicare, the laboratory company billed Medicare $463 million. Prosecutors argued that the restitution should be calculated based on the intended loss of $463 million.
The federal prosecutors claimed that since this is one of the largest genetic testing scheme ever brought to trial, the sentencing must act as a deterrent. The prosecutors argued that a life sentence for the Florida Man would reflect the seriousness of the Medicare fraud and deter others from conducting similar healthcare fraud schemes.
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About the Authors: 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. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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