Ten West Palm Beach Veteran’s Administration employees and five suppliers have been charged with fraud. Police allege that these individuals stole millions of dollars from taxpayers in an apparent kickback scheme related to the supply of goods and services. Employees were taking a cut of vending payments that were either fabricated completely or heavily embellished. In some instances, there were orders for work or goods that were never delivered.
Federal authorities said that this was a very substantial scheme that had been in place for a long time. Though they declined to specify exactly how much of the VA’s money the employees had stolen, they said that the net loss was in the millions of dollars.
The arrests include three current employees of the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center and another six employees from the Miami VA.
Kickback Schemes are a Common Type of Medical Fraud
While news articles like this appear to make the case that government-run hospitals like the VA are particularly susceptible to this kind of fraud, that’s not necessarily true. While this certainly looks very bad for the VA, hospitals and doctors have been accused of this type of fraud in the past. However, most of those fraud cases were depleting funds from Medicare and Medicaid, not funds specifically earmarked for our nation’s veterans.
What’s particularly disturbing about this case is how long the fraud was allowed to go on for before anyone caught wind. The idea, when committing this type of fraud, is to create a paper trail for goods or services that were never delivered. This involves the fabrication of invoices. Since it requires multiple people to set something like this up, they each get a cut.
Typically, a fraud-committing party will approach a vendor with an offer that goes something like this. “If you bill the VA hospital for such and such materials, we’ll rubber-stand the expense provided that you give us a percentage of the money.” The vendor makes money on the fact that the VA is paying them while the employees who are facilitating the fraud get money in kickbacks.
Frauds of this scope and size often result in federal charges. That means that the defendants will appear in federal court, and, pending their conviction, will go to federal prison. Meanwhile, each of the defendants will have their personal finances frozen and the transaction history scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. Charges will also be steeper depending on the amount of money they stole. The court will require that they pay that money back and could liquidate their assets to facilitate that process.
Meanwhile, if they plead not guilty, they will have to explain why they stole millions of dollars from our nation’s veterans.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. handles white-collar criminal cases such as the one mentioned above. If you’ve been accused of fraud, embezzlement, or conspiracy, then you need a West Palm Beach criminal attorney who understands the legal process and the charges against you. Call us today for more information on how we can help.