Health Care Professionals Sentenced in Fraud Scandal
Four healthcare professionals, who a judge called “highly educated drug dealers” were sentenced to probation for their role in an insurance fraud and pill distribution scheme that took down 12 people in the Georgia area. One defendant, Johnnie Chaissan Sanders was sentenced to serve seven months in a federal prison for his role in the scheme. Sanders had a prior conviction for credit card fraud, a type of white collar crime.
Each of these individuals was affiliated with Dr. Gilberto Sanchez’s highway medical practice. The practice was raided in 2017. Authorities accused Sanchez and his practice of writing fake prescriptions and committing healthcare fraud. Most of those charged pleaded down their sentence and cooperated with authorities.
However, one nurse practitioner was found guilty of 20 counts of healthcare fraud and illegal distribution of a controlled substance. A federal jury found Lillian Akwuba guilty of distributing drugs like fentanyl, Oxycontin, and methadone to patients without cause and of scheduling unnecessary visits to overcharge insurance companies.
Office Charged with Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
There are many who wonder about the high costs of the American healthcare system. Programs like Medicare and Medicaid cost taxpayers billions each year. While most Americans are probably willing to subsidize the healthcare needs of the elderly and disabled, those on publicly funded insurance are often targeted by unscrupulous clinics that charge them for unnecessary treatment. In some cases, they send them for unnecessary tests. In others, they bill them for procedures they don’t need or ever receive. This is one of the major reasons why the costs of healthcare in our country are higher than they should be.
Today, pill mill operations like the one that Sanchez ran have increasingly become the target of federal prosecution. Typically, these operations run using doctors with shady credentials. In the case of a Florida pill mill, an out-of-work pediatrician was recruited over Craigslist to distribute addictive narcotics. In this case, patients were given MRIs to justify their prescriptions to insurance providers.
In light of this crackdown, healthcare providers have shifted to providing a blend of legal and fraudulent services. This makes it more difficult for prosecutors to separate the legitimate services from the illegitimate. The investigation is more time-consuming and costly.
Sanchez Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison
The doctor who ran the operation, Gilberto Sanchez, was sentenced to twelve years in prison for his part in the distribution of addictive narcotics and Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Sanchez had made a deal with federal prosecutors, but the judge, Myron Thompson, rejected the deal and forced Sanchez to serve a longer sentence.
Amid the opioid crisis, illegitimate pill mills are becoming a major target for federal prosecutors. They also cost the healthcare system untold millions in fraudulent prescriptions, visits, and future healthcare.
Talk to a West Palm Beach White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm P.A. helps those convicted of serious crimes negotiate their sentences down or defend themselves from the charges before a jury. Give us a call or talk to us online to set up an appointment today.