By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 19, 2020, federal prosecutors in New Jersey federal court pushed to keep a suspect involved in a $424 million telemedicine scheme in jail. Authorities called him an “unrepentant conman” who carried out one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history and is likely to flee the country if released.
Telehealth Fraud & Illegal Kickbacks.
The defendant, who owns telehealth companies, has been locked up for nearly 11 months since he was charged last year with running an international fraud and kickback scam. He allegedly paid doctors to order unnecessary orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and solicited bribes and kickbacks from brace suppliers in exchange for patient referrals.
Prosecutors say he went to great lengths to hide his scheme, including lying to obtain legal opinion letters bolstering his claim that he ran legitimate companies that profited from patient subscription fees. In reality, he was concealing the fact that most of those payments were kickbacks from brace suppliers.
A Possible Flight Risk?
In an opposition brief, prosecutors said that there aren’t any suitable bail conditions for the suspect, given his risk of flight and the danger he poses to the community. According to the government, he has a long history of deception and scheming involving foreign businesses, residences, and assets, including a $1 million yacht. Additionally, he claimed to control several foreign bank accounts and once told a cooperating witness that if the government started investigating him, he would flee to Venezuela.
The defendant argued that he’s not a flight risk because he has no criminal history and has close ties to his South Florida community.
Florida’s Involved in a Major Fraud Case, Shocker!
Another scenario that seems to be right out of a Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel. Why does Florida continue to attract and protect the assets fo fraudsters, conmen, and deadbeats? Does it go back to our history of being the wintering ground for carnies and traveling circuses?
In 2019, the defendant was charged along with 23 other individuals in a crackdown on telehealth fraud schemes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina Texas, Florida, and California, involving over $1.2 billion in losses.
Given his close community ties and its reputation, it comes as no surprise that getting doctors to sign off on fraudulent prescriptions was a part allegedly played by telehealth company owners in Florida. Click here to view the indictment.
For years, Florida has been the home to health care fraudsters and ranked number one in terms of fraud cases. So, it’s not shocking that three Florida telehealth executives were also charged in what appears to be the biggest case in the takedown.
Click here to learn more about this case.
Therefore, to prevent flight and protect the public, prosecutors requested that the Court deny the
defendant’s motion to revoke the detention order and keep him detained. Click here to read the opposition brief.
To read about a similar telehealth case in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.
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Bishop, Stweart. “Feds Push To Keep Telehealth Fraud Suspect Locked Up.” Law360. (March 19, 2020). Web.
Godoy, Jody. “Execs, MDs Charged In $1.2B Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (April 9, 2019). Web.
About the Author: 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. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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