Former University of Florida Professor and Researcher Charged With Fraud and Hiding China Ties

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 3, 2021, a former University of Florida professor was indicted on allegations of fraudulently obtaining a federal grant from the U.S. by concealing his ties with the Chinese government. He is accused of fraudulently obtaining $1.75 million in federal grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was able to do this by concealing support he received from the Chinese government and a company that he founded in China to profit from that research, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The former professor is charged with six counts of wire fraud and four counts of making false statements to an agency of the United States.

A Scheme to Defraud National Institutes of Health and the University of Florida.

According to the indictment, the ex-professor obtained a $1.75 million grant from NIH to support his development work on an imaging informatics tool for muscles known as “MuscleMiner.” Additionally, he served as the principal investigator for the grant between September 2014 and July 2019. According to prosecutors, he was required to disclose any foreign research support and any financial conflicts of interest, including financial connections to foreign companies, but he failed to do so.

The indictment alleges that he concealed the information in order to keep his job at the University of Florida and continue to receive NIH grant money. Additionally, the ex-professor signed a document from UF’s College of Engineering in 2019 that said he had no affiliation with any business, business entity, or university in China. Prosecutors said that he left the United States in August of 2019 for China and has not returned.

Each wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for each count of making a false statement is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. You can read the complaint in this case here.

To read the press release issued by the DOJ, click here.

Research Fraud, Grant Application Fraud, and Scientific Misconduct Allegations Have Serious Consequences.

An accusation, even if later proven to be unfounded, may unfairly tarnish the personal and professional reputation of any scientific, medical, or clinical researcher. It can cause the researcher to lose grants, bonuses, and promotions; his or her employment may be terminated; and, as in this case, he or she may face criminal prosecution for fraud, theft, or other applicable crimes.

To learn more on clinical research fraud and misconduct, click here to visit our Areas of Practice Page on our website and read one of my prior blogs here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Defending Against Allegations of Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys have experience in representing researchers, investigators, academicians, and clinicians who are the subject of clinical research fraud and misconduct allegations. The Health Law Firm and its attorneys also have experience in representing students, employees, researchers, investigators, and “whistleblowers” who report such matters including those who become the victim of reprisals and retaliation by the person against whom the report is made.

Don’t wait. Obtain the advice and counsel of experienced attorneys who are familiar with such matters and can assist you before it is too late.

If you are facing allegations of research misconduct, research fraud, medical investigation misconduct, please visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call The Health Law Firm at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.

Sources:

Clough, Chris. “Former Fla. Professor Charged With Fraud, Hiding China Ties.” Law360. (February 3, 2021). Web.

Swirko, Cindy. “Former Florida professor indicted for fraudulently obtaining $1.75M federal grant.” The Gainesville Sun. (February 5, 2021). 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 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Keywords: Scientific misconduct fraud defense attorney, medical research fraud defense lawyer, misconduct in science defense lawyer, legal representation in investigation of scientific misconduct, research grant fraud defense attorney, medical research grant misconduct investigation defense attorney, investigation review board (IRB) defense attorney, legal representation in investigation by IRB, university clinical investigation review board (IRB) defense attorney, university charges of grant fraud defense attorney, university clinical review board hearing lawyer, medical investigation misconduct defense counsel, falsifying research defense attorney, university IRB hearing attorney, university misconduct in science investigation hearing attorney, clinical research misconduct defense counsel, medical and clinical researcher investigation, clinical research fraud allegation defense attorney, representation for clinical research fraud, research fraud defense lawyer, clinical investigation misconduct defense lawyer, Office of Research Integrity (ORI) defense attorney, legal representation in Office of Research Integrity (ORI) investigation, ORI hearing attorney, clinical trials defense lawyer, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defense lawyer, legal representation in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, representation for FDA investigations, representation for DEA investigations, representation for DOJ investigations, National Institutes of Health (NIH) defense attorney, legal representation in National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigation, NIH hearing defense attorney

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2021-03-09T10:26:45-05:00March 30th, 2021|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Former University of Florida Professor and Researcher Charged With Fraud and Hiding China Ties

Attorney Carole C. Schriefer Headshot

CAROLE C. SCHRIEFER, J.D.

By Carole C. Schriefer, J.D.

On February 3, 2021, a former University of Florida professor was indicted on allegations of fraudulently obtaining a federal grant from the U.S. by concealing his ties with the Chinese government. He is accused of fraudulently obtaining $1.75 million in federal grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was able to do this by concealing support he received from the Chinese government and a company that he founded in China to profit from that research, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The former professor is charged with six counts of wire fraud and four counts of making false statements to an agency of the United States.

A Scheme to Defraud National Institutes of Health and the University of Florida.

According to the indictment, the ex-professor obtained a $1.75 million grant from NIH to support his development work on an imaging informatics tool for muscles known as “MuscleMiner.” Additionally, he served as the principal investigator for the grant between September 2014 and July 2019. According to prosecutors, he was required to disclose any foreign research support and any financial conflicts of interest, including financial connections to foreign companies, but he failed to do so.

The indictment alleges that he concealed the information in order to keep his job at the University of Florida and continue to receive NIH grant money. Additionally, the ex-professor signed a document from UF’s College of Engineering in 2019 that said he had no affiliation with any business, business entity, or university in China. Prosecutors said that he left the United States in August of 2019 for China and has not returned.

Each wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for each count of making a false statement is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. You can read the complaint in this case here.

To read the press release issued by the DOJ, click here.

Research Fraud, Grant Application Fraud, and Scientific Misconduct Allegations Have Serious Consequences.

An accusation, even if later proven to be unfounded, may unfairly tarnish the personal and professional reputation of any scientific, medical, or clinical researcher. It can cause the researcher to lose grants, bonuses, and promotions; his or her employment may be terminated; and, as in this case, he or she may face criminal prosecution for fraud, theft, or other applicable crimes.

To learn more on clinical research fraud and misconduct, click here to visit our Areas of Practice Page on our website and read one of my prior blogs here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Defending Against Allegations of Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys have experience in representing researchers, investigators, academicians, and clinicians who are the subject of clinical research fraud and misconduct allegations. The Health Law Firm and its attorneys also have experience in representing students, employees, researchers, investigators, and “whistleblowers” who report such matters including those who become the victim of reprisals and retaliation by the person against whom the report is made.

Don’t wait. Obtain the advice and counsel of experienced attorneys who are familiar with such matters and can assist you before it is too late.

If you are facing allegations of research misconduct, research fraud, medical investigation misconduct, please visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call The Health Law Firm at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.

Sources:

Clough, Chris. “Former Fla. Professor Charged With Fraud, Hiding China Ties.” Law360. (February 3, 2021). Web.

Swirko, Cindy. “Former Florida professor indicted for fraudulently obtaining $1.75M federal grant.” The Gainesville Sun. (February 5, 2021). Web.

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney and former registered nurse. She practices with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2021-03-09T10:45:54-05:00March 29th, 2021|Categories: Colorado Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Judge Refuses to Dismiss $21 Million Suit against Florida Pharmacy Alleging Illegal Kickback Scheme

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 13, 2019, a federal judge turned down a Florida pharmacy’s motion to dismiss a $21 million False Claims Act (FCA) suit, but allowed its sister company out of the suit. The judge said Z Stat Medical LLC, which operates as Oldsmar Pharmacy and its owner, must face the government’s claims that it engaged in illegal kickback schemes to defraud Tricare. Oldsmar’s sister company, Stat Direct LLC, was dismissed from the lawsuit completely. There was no evidence it was also involved in the alleged misconduct, according to court documents.

The First Alleged Scheme.

The case was originally brought as a result of a whistleblower complaint that alleged two schemes to defraud Tricare. The first scheme was allegedly a deal between Oldsmar and Centurion Compounding Pharmacy. Centurion was alleged to have hired sales reps as independent contractors. The sales reps marketed costly compounded medications, usually creams for pain and scars, to Tricare beneficiaries. Patients recruited by the sales reps were told to send their prescriptions to Centurion, which then directed them to Oldsmar to fill. The sales representatives would then get part of the reimbursement profit, according to the complaint.

In total, Tricare was stated to have paid about $18 million for these bogus claims, and Oldsmar was alleged to have paid about $6.1 million in kickbacks in a little over a year, the suit says.

The Second Alleged Scheme.

The second alleged scheme involved companies that included Health Savings Solutions and Vici Marketing. Oldsmar allegedly worked with Vici Marketing and published online advertisements offering free consultations. Referrals were funneled through Health Savings Solutions for compounded pain creams. These prescriptions were written and filled, without a patient ever seeing a doctor in person, according to court documents.

According to the government, from September 2014 to February 2015, Oldsmar Pharmacy filed 700 prescription claims with Tricare based on referrals from Health Savings Solutions. In return, Oldsmar Pharmacy paid a 41 percent kickback to the marketers. This resulted in Tricare paying out about $3.4 million. Oldsmar made $5.5 million in payments to Health Savings Solutions, including three payments of about $1 million each, according to the complaint.

Click here to read the complaint in full.

Liable for False Claims.

Judge Hernandez Covington said the government pled the allegations sufficiently to keep Oldsmar and its owner in the case. The government has also satisfactorily alleged that Oldsmar’s owner has enough of an understanding of the Anti-Kickback Statutes (AKS) to have known better, according to the Judge.

While Oldsmar Pharmacy did return $19 million to Tricare, the FCA calls for treble damages Three times the amount), so the company can’t avoid litigation, the judge said, adding that she’ll deduct the $19 million from any final amount determined top be owed.

Click here to read the judge’s order in full.

To read about a case Judge Hernandez Covington made a similar ruling on dealing with a Florida Compounding Pharmacy’s FCA Suit, click here to read one of my prior blogs. (https://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/blog/posts/federal-judge-refuses-to-dismiss-florida-compounding-pharmacys-fca-suit.html)

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kass, Dani. “Pharmacy Must Face $21M Prescription Kickback Suit.” Law360. (February 13, 2019). Web.

“13 IN TAMPA CHARGED AS PART OF NATIONAL HEALTHCARE FRAUD TAKEDOWN.” Tampa Bay Reporter. (June 29, 2018). Web.

Hale, Nathan. “Feds Want FCA Suit Over $21M Kickback Scheme To Proceed.” Law360. (January 28, 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., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: False Claims Act defense attorney, FCA legal counsel, TRICARE false claims legal defense attorney, TRICARE physician representation, legal representation violating False Claims Act, pharmaceutical fraud lawyer, compounding pharmacy attorney, fraudulent practices of pharmaceutical companies, whistleblower lawyer, whistblower defense attorney, representation for FCA violations, financial interest in physician referrals, TRICARE fraud attorney, The Health Law Firm, representation for healthcare fraud investigations, conflict of interest in physician referrals, representation for compounding pharmacies, compounding pharmacy defense lawyer, prescription reimbursement representation, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) attorney, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) violations lawyer, representation for kickback allegations, representation for allegations of fraud, legal defense of military physicians, legal defense of TRICARE providers, FDA investigation attorney, representation for FDA investigations, DEA defense attorney, representation for DEA investigations against healthcare professionals, representation for DOH investigations, DOH investigation attorney, attorney reviews of The Health Law Firm, Veterans Administration (VA) physician defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, legal representation for pharmacies, legal representation for pharmacists, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-02-21T18:20:05-05:00February 21st, 2019|Categories: Pharmacy Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
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