Husband And Wife Sentenced In Veterans Affairs Fraud Scheme
Have you ever considered putting together a fraud team with your spouse? Probably not a great way to grow your marriage. Once the feds have reason to suspect you, they’ll start leaning on whichever spouse they consider the weaker link and play the one against the other. While the government cannot require you to testify against a spouse, they can throw the full weight of the law at you if you don’t.
Over the past week, a husband and wife team that defrauded VA of thousands of dollars are the last to be sentenced for the scheme. The husband will face 30 months behind bars and an additional three years of supervised release. He will be required to repay over $2 million in restitution. His wife has been given three years of supervised release plus an additional year of home confinement. She was ordered to repay $500,000 in restitution.
Examining the fraud
The fraud was a simple and illegal kickback scheme. The husband and wife, along with several others, paid members of the VA staff to serve as vendors for medical supplies. The prosecution was able to produce evidence that the vendors paid VA’s medical center employees to use government credit cards to purchase supplies from corrupt vendors for grossly inflated prices. When the prices weren’t grossly inflated, the orders were only half-filled. This is likely because anyone going over the VA’s books would be able to see that the VA was overpaying for supplies. However, you’d have to conduct an inventory of the VA to know that the orders were only half-filled.
All of the VA employees involved in the fraud were either terminated or resigned. 16 defendants pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges.
Health care fraud prosecutions
Health care fraud prosecutions are eating up headlines right now. Not only is the VA and other government hospitals susceptible to this form of fraud, but private hospitals, clinics, drug rehab centers, and even group homes have been involved in kickback schemes to secure patients through back-alley deals.
Further, the cost of health care in America is too high right now and with everyone scrambling to protect the health care industry from fraudulent lawsuits, the leakage appears to be coming within the industry itself. In this case, the bill is paid for by the taxpayers, and with fewer people paying attention, fraudsters figure the VA and Medicaid are perfect targets. While they do get away with these schemes for awhile, eventually, it always seems to end up costing them more than what they got out of it. In this case, the fraudster will spend the better part of three years in the can and have to repay over $2 million in fraudulent orders.
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