Miami Healthcare Fraud Defense Attorneys

Health care fraud attorney in Miami Florida

If you’re a Miami-based physician, pain management specialist, pharmacist, nurse, or chiropractor, and you receive a grand jury subpoena or are contacted by a federal agent for a healthcare fraud investigation, you need to act immediately.

You need to have a criminal healthcare lawyer from Chapman Law Group on your side.

Why?

Because for 35 years, our law firm has successfully defended doctors and licensed medical professionals in federal courts across the U.S.

Because our Miami healthcare fraud defense lawyers have achieved frequent dismissals and acquittals on behalf of clients charged with federal healthcare fraud, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TriCare.

Miami has one of the highest rates of federal healthcare fraud indictments in the country — so much so that, since 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has operated a “strike force” to prosecute healthcare fraud in the Miami region.

If you find yourself accused of healthcare fraud, there is no time to delay. Any action you take could affect you and your family for years to come.

You need the right advice. You need a skilled Miami white collar crimes attorney who specializes in health care fraud to protect you.

But first, you need to know what healthcare fraud is all about.

What is Health Care Fraud?

Healthcare fraud is a type of white-collar crime that involves the filing of fraudulent healthcare claims. Healthcare fraud cases, like most white-collar crimes, involve deceit, concealment, and violation of trust, and are not dependent on the threat of physical force or violence. 

What Are the Most Common Healthcare Fraud Crimes?

    • Accepting kickbacks for patient referrals. The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) prohibits offering or providing anything of value to induce the referral of Medicare or Medicaid business.
    • Submitting false or inflated claims to federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TriCare.
    • Billing for services or durable medical equipment not provided.
    • Billing for more expensive services or procedures than were actually provided or performed.
    • Performing medically unnecessary services solely for the purpose of generating insurance payments.
    • Making false statements on applications or contracts to participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs.

How is Healthcare Fraud Prosecuted?

Healthcare fraud is predominately prosecuted by the federal government and the DOJ Healthcare Fraud Strike Force. The following laws are utilized by the federal government to prosecute healthcare fraud:

How Does a Federal Health Care Fraud Investigation Begin?

Most federal healthcare fraud investigations begin through audits, whistleblower tips (also known as Qui Tam matters), or patient complaints.

Virtually everyone is familiar with the FBI, but few are aware of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The OIG is the nation’s leading law enforcement agency for investigating healthcare fraud. Its focus is to protect beneficiaries and federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TriCare. More times than not, the OIG is leading the healthcare fraud investigation, working directly with the prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When it comes to auditing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and HHS review statistical data generated from Medicare and Medicaid bills to look for outliers. Once the OIG or CMS finds an outlier, it typically conducts an audit and, in severe cases, may immediately refer a case for criminal prosecution.

During an audit, HHS will obtain billing records and request medical records. An initial audit may require review of only a few files, often called a probe audit.

If fraud is suspected after an audit, the case will be referred for investigation and prosecution. When the case is referred, federal law enforcement agents will begin investigating the billing data and interviewing witnesses in order to prepare a case.

Once the case is prepared, an attorney from a local U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Healthcare Fraud Strike Force will prepare an indictment and take a case to a grand jury. If the grand jury returns an indictment, the subject of that indictment will be charged with healthcare fraud and will be required to defend that indictment in court.

Health care fraud lawyer in Miami Florida

How Do Things Work in Miami for Prosecuting Healthcare Fraud?

In Miami, it is very common for investigators from different federal agencies to work together on a case. Most health care fraud cases are investigated by special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the HHS-OIG.

Nationally, the DOJ has placed the full power of the federal government’s resources into the effort to prosecute healthcare fraud. In 2007, Miami became the first location in the country where the DOJ implemented the Strike Force model to focus on health care fraud. Today, Strike Force teams operate in 12 cities.

Each Strike Force consists of experienced federal agents and investigators from different federal agencies who work together in interagency teams. These highly skilled professionals work side-by-side with prosecutors to plan strategies and conduct investigations. The Strike Force Teams use advanced data analysis techniques to identify unusual billing levels in healthcare fraud “hot spots” (cities with high levels of billing fraud).

By coordinating multiagency intelligence resources, the teams are able to swiftly suspend Medicare reimbursements and freeze assets.

Here are some examples of cases brought by the Miami Strike Force Team:

  • A Miami mental health care company owner was accused of orchestrating a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme by paying kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and halfway houses and to patient brokers.
  • A Miami-area physician was accused of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in a $23 million dollar HIV injection and infusion Medicare fraud scheme by ordering unnecessary tests, signing medical analysis and diagnosis forms, and authorizing treatments to make it appear that legitimate medical services were being provided to patients who were Medicare beneficiaries.
  • A mother and son pleaded guilty to orchestrating a $16 million Medicare fraud scheme at two Miami pharmacies, in which the son wrote checks to money launderers in order to obtain cash to pay kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries.
  • The clinical director of a Miami-area mental health care hospital was accused of a $70 million healthcare fraud by facilitating the payment of bribes to patient recruiters and overseeing the fraudulent admissions and treatment of unqualified patients.

What Are the Consequences of a Healthcare Fraud Conviction?

The consequences of a healthcare fraud conviction are severe, which is why a plea to accept a felony charge for healthcare fraud or Medicare fraud should not be based solely on the potential jail time.

The potential consequences of a conviction of healthcare fraud are: 

  • Mandatory felony conviction
  • Prohibition on billing any federal entity for between five years and life
  • Loss of professional license (medical license, pharmacy license, nursing license)
  • Jail time (many healthcare fraud crimes carry a potential maximum 10- or 20-year prison sentence)
  • Forfeiture of all assets related to the alleged offense
  • Fines of up to $250,000 per offense
  • Restitution
  • Job loss
  • Loss of board certification status

When Should I Be Concerned About a Healthcare Fraud Investigation?

You should be concerned the minute you receive a subpoena or a federal investigator asks to speak to you about a healthcare investigation. When investigators reach out to speak with someone, the investigation itself has been active for a long time. They already have their strategy drawn out, and they know what they are looking for.

They want you to talk. They want you to tell your story — without a lawyer.

Don’t fall into that trap. Call a Miami criminal defense attorney who specializes in healthcare fraud defense first. As one of the top law firms in Florida for healthcare defense matters, we are the lawyers you’ll need.

Why Should I Turn to the Miami Healthcare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Chapman Law Group If I’ve Been Accused of Healthcare Fraud?

Because our Florida healthcare lawyers have been battling these federal Medicare fraud strike forces for several years — so our healthcare clients get the kind of Medicare fraud defense no one else can offer.

We have keen insight into the feds’ and the strike force’s tactics. We can detect their weaknesses. And we know how to get results for our clients facing healthcare fraud indictments. Our Miami healthcare fraud defense attorneys have a reputation in winning many cases by dismissal or not-guilty verdicts at trial.

We also know that fighting a case through trial places a heavy burden — emotionally and financially — on a family. And one of the critical differences between the Chapman Law Group and other criminal law firms is our focus on preventing an arrest and charges from being filed.

A Miami criminal defense lawyer from Chapman Law Group will actively investigate allegations and start building a defense for each client before the case ever goes to court.

Many times, we can convince the government not to file charges, contending that our client committed no crime. In other instances, we are able to resolve a case through a diversion agreement, which results in a case dismissal. And in some situations, we can settle a case through a civil agreement and payment of a fine.

Even in situations where criminal charges are filed, we are often able to get a result that would substantially reduce the potential jail time and other penalties.

And, moving forward, we can help you develop a stronger, more effective compliance program for your practice, so as to avoid accusations of healthcare fraud and be prepared if the government decides to conduct an audit.

Very few law firms in the U.S., if any, can make these claims and back them up with our results.

How Should I Be Prepared for Questioning by Federal Agents?

You have to keep in mind that federal investigators have received the best training in the world on questioning and interrogation techniques. It’s not a fair fight for you to speak to them by yourself.

Most people don’t realize that the psychological manipulation has begun before the first question is even asked.

Sometimes it really is like the “good cop/bad cop” scenario in the movies and on TV. The bad agent will be aggressive, make accusations, and be threatening; the good agent will act like your friend who is sympathetic and understanding, trying to help you out, and defending you from the bad cop. They want you to “clear something up” or ask you to explain some “small mistakes” or “minor inconsistencies” found in an audit.

The only way to be truly prepared for questioning by federal agents is to be represented by an experienced Miami healthcare fraud defense attorney.

What Does It Mean to Be Indicted for Healthcare Fraud?

An indictment is the formal start to a healthcare fraud prosecution. A grand jury is presented with evidence and makes the decision over whether to issue an indictment, which is kept under seal until the prosecutor is ready to move forward with the case. Once the indictment is unsealed, the defendants named in the indictment will be arrested.

By retaining a Miami health care fraud defense lawyer before indictment and arrest, this process can be much less intimidating. A great defense to healthcare fraud requires early intervention at the earliest possible stage. If an indictment has not been issued, a thorough investigation and compliance plan may remedy the issue before indictment.

Our Miami health care fraud defense lawyers at Chapman Law Group have developed a professional rapport with many prosecutors and are often able to arrange that we are notified before an arrest is made, and instead have our clients voluntarily walk in for their initial appearance.

Miami health care fraud defense attorney.

What Happens After Indictment?

Once the indictment is unsealed and you are formally charged, you and any co-defendants will either be arrested by federal agents, or your attorney(s) will be notified of the need to “walk in” for arraignment.

This is one reason why it’s imperative to contact a Miami healthcare fraud defense attorney who is familiar with the prosecutor. We may be able to prevent arrest on the indictment and request that you “walk in” for initial appearance without the embarrassment that an arrest from your home or work will cause.

This begins a series of stages in the adjudication process leading to the resolution of the case in one of three ways: trial, negotiation and acceptance of a plea offer, or a dismissal. Here are the general steps during the progression of a healthcare fraud case:

    1. Pre-Indictment Investigation: This is not just when the government investigates, but also when your defense attorney conducts an investigation and makes preparations to engage in pre-indictment negotiations. During this phase, you and your attorney have the best chance of convincing the government not to pursue a healthcare fraud case.
    2. Indictment: The unsealing of a federal indictment triggers federal criminal charges and the trial process. During this phase, the case will move very fast, which is why it is imperative to have a healthcare fraud defense attorney on your team prior to indictment.
    3. Pre-Trial Services Interview: The pre-trial services division will interview you to determine whether you can be released on bond and, if so, under what conditions. Release on bond and conditions of bond can drastically change the landscape of the case, which is why you need your counsel present during the interview.
    4. Arraignment/Bond: The arraignment is the first court appearance, during which you are informed of the charges, by a federal magistrate, to determine how you will plead. The judge will then determine whether you can be released on bond and, if so, sets a bond amount. Most of our clients are released on bond and are not held in custody as the case is pending.
    5. Discovery Phase: Next, the discovery process begins as the government turns over the evidence it has gathered through its investigation. The discovery in a healthcare fraud case is usually quite voluminous, as it often contains lengthy documents such as patient records, billing data, financial statements, and pharmacy dispensing logs. A knowledgeable healthcare attorney can analyze the government’s evidence and understand the strengths and weaknesses, which helps in developing an overall case strategy and knowing the best step to take next. For instance, this could involve filing a motion due to the insufficiency or inadmissibility of the government’s evidence, or conducting an independent investigation to dispute the government’s findings.
    6. Motions Phase: This is when your counsel files pre-trial motions designed to narrow the case, restrict the government’s evidence, or dismiss one or all charges.
    7. Plea Negotiation: Only after reviewing the evidence, researching, filing, arguing, and receiving the judge’s ruling on any relevant motions, and engaging in a thorough conversation with our client about their case, is a plea offer considered. While plea negotiations with the prosecutor are ongoing throughout the pretrial stage, we do not rush a client to accept any offer deal the government might make without careful consideration. The ultimate decision over whether to proceed to trial or accept a plea offer is the client’s choice, but we at Chapman Law Group work to ensure your determination is based on facts and not fear of the trial courtroom.
    8. Pre-trial Hearing: The defense team, prosecution and judge will meet to make a final determination over whether the case will proceed to trial, or if a plea offer has been negotiated and accepted. If a plea offer has been formally rejected, the judge will not typically accept a negotiated plea after this hearing; however, you may still choose to plead guilty as charged on a later date, but without the agreed-to terms of a plea deal. At the pre-trial hearing, the parties will discuss any outstanding business that needs to be resolved before trial, such as the logistics of the trial.
    9. Trial: The trial is the stage when the government presents its evidence to the factfinder. The factfinder is either the jury, or, if the parties agree to a trial without the jury, the judge. It is the government’s job to prove each element of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Our healthcare fraud defense attorneys will develop a strategy specific to your case, while drawing from our vast trial experience to rebut the government’s allegations. After both sides have presented their evidence, the jury or the judge makes a finding of guilty or not guilty on each charged offense. A healthcare fraud trial can last anywhere from a week to several months long.
    10. Sentencing: Sentencing will occur on a scheduled date after pleading guilty or being found guilty at trial.

How are Healthcare Fraud Sentences Determined?

Federal sentences are created using the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which are a framework of rules used by judges to calculate the range of sentences for federal crimes. If someone is convicted of healthcare fraud, the sentence is almost exclusively determined by the fraud loss amount to the entity billed — generally the value of claims billed.

Each crime is assigned an offense level. Levels are increased or decreased depending on specific details of the case. After all factors are considered, the final offense level corresponds to a penalty range.

Possible prison sentences for health care fraud cases largely depend on the amount of economic loss to the federal reimbursement program. A basic way of looking at it is, an increased loss amount equals an increased prison sentence.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, the amount of claims billed to a healthcare program is considered prima facie evidence of the loss amount. In the event of conviction and in order to achieve a lower sentence, it is imperative that defense counsel challenge the notion that the amount of claims billed is the amount of the loss to the government.

How is Economic Loss Calculated for Healthcare Fraud?

The rules and process for calculating loss amount favor the government. The sentencing guidelines define “loss” as “the greater of actual loss or intended loss,” and provide that the sentencing judge “need only make a reasonable estimate of the loss.” When a judge calculates the intended loss, absolute accuracy is not required, so long as the calculation is not “outside the realm of permissible computations.”

Courts have held losses caused by the acts of co-conspirators that were reasonably foreseeable to the defendant should also be included in the loss calculation. The sentencing court should, however, limit the defendant’s liability to those acts of coconspirators that were reasonably foreseeable and part of the criminal activity that the defendant “agreed to jointly undertake.”

In a healthcare fraud case, the amount fraudulently billed to the federal insurance program (Medicare or Medicaid) is “prima facie evidence of the amount of loss [the defendant] intended to cause,” but there can be additional evidence presented by the defense to demonstrate that this total “exaggerates” the defendant’s intent.

Loss includes all relevant conduct, including charged, uncharged, and acquitted conduct and is not limited to losses directly attributable to the defendant. For example, a defendant convicted of defrauding Medicare can be held responsible for the losses not only to the Medicare program but to private insurers and patients.

Every healthcare provider knows that Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies do not actually pay the amount billed. Usually it is some lesser amount.

Under no circumstances should someone facing healthcare fraud charges accept the government’s recitation of the loss amount. The government’s loss number is generally inflated and created using poor methodology.

But a well-skilled Florida healthcare fraud defense attorney — the kind you will find at Chapman Law Group — will know other strategies useful for determining a lower loss amount, such as claim sampling and extrapolation.

As an example, let’s say a pharmacist fraudulently billed Medicare for reimbursement of prescriptions for non-existent patients. If the government claims the loss to the Medicare program was at least $1 million but less than $1.5 million, the potential prison sentence could be 30 to 37 months.

But, if by aggressively investigating the case data, a Florida healthcare attorney from Chapman Law Group can show the loss to the Medicare program was actually less than $550,000, the potential prison sentence can be substantially lowered to 18 to 24 months.

Once that is accomplished, our team can work towards getting the final sentence recommendation to a level that can be non-prison.

This scenario is precisely why you need a dedicated Miami fraud defense attorney to defend your Medicare or Medicaid fraud case.

This is why you need the Miami health care fraud defense attorneys from Chapman Law Group.

Why Should I Call the Miami Healthcare Fraud Defense Lawyers from Chapman Law Group If I Am Charged with Medicare Fraud?

If you are facing something as career-threatening as healthcare fraud, your whole world is hanging in the balance.

You need a Florida healthcare lawyer you can fully trust. You need the confidence to know that he/she is fighting for you and looking out for your best interests.

You need to be certain that your Miami white collar crimes lawyer can take a case to trial and is not looking to just plead you guilty. Your lawyer must be reachable when you have questions.

At Chapman Law Group, we aggressively protect clients’ rights every step of the way. Every Florida health care lawyer on our roster strives to always keep clients informed, explain the process, and answer any and all questions.

We never forget that we as Florida health care attorneys are experienced and comfortable maneuvering the criminal justice system — but you as a client are not.

You aren’t simply a case number to us.

And we aren’t simply just another law firm. Because at Chapman Law Group, healthcare cases are all we do.

For Healthcare Fraud Representation, the Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers at Chapman Law Group Stand Apart

For 35 years, the Florida health care lawyers at Chapman Law Group have aggressively defended licensed healthcare professionals on criminal matters — from the internal investigation right up through trial.

We handle multistate federal criminal matters investigated by the DOJ; state felony matters; and, where criminal sanctions are possible, investigations commenced by the HHS, FBI, DEA, FDA, and DOJ.

We have honed our expertise in defending providers against healthcare fraud charges by obtaining pretrial dismissals, not-guilty verdicts, and beneficial plea agreements in federal courts across the U.S. 

Our clients include practitioners in cities, counties, and communities all across Florida. Our Florida offices are in Miami and Sarasota, Florida. We serve all of Florida, including Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Gainesville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Lakeland, and Sarasota, as well as Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Pinellas County, Brevard County, Hillsborough County, Duval County, Escambia County, and Orange County.

Nationally, we have offices in Detroit (where we serve Dearborn, Troy, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, and the rest of Michigan); Los Angeles/Southern California; and Chicago

Contact us today to learn more about what an experienced, reputable Miami health care fraud defense attorney can do for you, and how we are ready to help you with the best healthcare fraud defense. 

Need an Attorney? Contact us now!

.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Got A Question?

Contact me now to schedule a consultation.

Other Practice Areas​

Health Care Fraud/
Criminal Defense

Related Case Results

Related Blog Post

FREE Health Care Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest news in health care law!

Got A Question?

Contact me now to schedule a consultation.

Send this to a friend