Home Health Agency
Defendant Liberty Jaramillo, a Troy, Michigan, home health business manager, pleaded guilty to more than $2 million in healthcare fraud, per 18 U.S.C. § 1349, in June 2017. He was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment in May 2018, but because of his age and medical conditions — including tachycardia, heart palpitations, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout attacks, and hyperthyroidism — his surrender date was extended. Defendant eventually reported to federal prison in November 2020. He filed a motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), which allows for prisoners to petition for early release because of “extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing.”
Chapman Law Group attorneys Ronald W. Chapman II and Meaghan McKeon, of Chapman Law Group’s White Collar Defense & Government Investigations practice section, contended that Defendant’s age and medical history, coupled with the nature of a prison’s close quarters, would make him vulnerable to COVID-19. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic “could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court” at his May 2018 sentencing.
The government argued that reducing Defendant’s sentence “will not adequately reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment for the offense, or afford adequate deterrence of criminal conduct.”
In his February 16, 2021, order granting release, U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain noted that Defendant’s health situation made for a valid argument, in that Defendant “meet[s] the CDC’s classification of adults sixty-five years and older who are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications,” and “nearly all of Defendant’s conditions independently fit into the CDC’s definition of moderate to severe risk; together, ‘his conditions  exacerbate each other, placing him in a much more vulnerable position than a healthy person, if he were to get COVID-19.’ … In sum, upon consideration of precedent for granting compassionate release and the particular facts of his case, Defendant has presented extraordinary and compelling circumstances under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c).”
In addition, in answering the government’s argument, the court stated that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, “‘a longer sentence would also have a greater potential for exposing a particularly vulnerable prisoner to the coronavirus, and the Court must weigh the value of deterrence against increasing the threat of a possibly lethal infection.’ … [I]n balancing the circumstances … ‘deterrence weighs less.’ Here, the risk of exposure to Defendant, who is likewise a particularly vulnerable prisoner to COVID-19, outweighs the value of deterrence.”
Area of Law:
Healthcare Fraud/Criminal Defense
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