On April 1, 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a Houston psychiatrist had been sentenced to 144 months in prison for her role in a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme. The psychiatrist, Sharon Inglehart, formerly served as attending psychiatrist at Houston’s Riverside General Hospital (Riverside). A jury convicted her of Medicare fraud after a seven-day trial. As part of the sentence, she was also ordered to pay more than $6.3 million in restitution.
12th Person Convicted in the Houston Medicare Fraud Investigation
Inglehart represents the 12th criminal defendant that has been convicted, based upon their respective roles in the fraud scheme. Earlier, even stiffer sentences were given to several Riverside officials, including the 71-year-old former Riverside president and his son, the operator of a Riverside partial hospitalization program facility, who received 45 years and 20 years, respectively.
Jury Found that Psychiatrist Falsified Records and Filed False Reports
At the Inglehart trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence that Inglehart personally billed Medicare for individual psychotherapy and other treatment that she claimed to have provided to Riverside patients, but treatment was never actually given. Other evidence showed that Inglehart had falsified the medical records of some Medicare patients at Riverside to make it appear as if she had provided psychiatric services when she had not. At trial, the prosecutors presented evidence that most of the Medicare beneficiaries at Riverside rarely saw a psychiatrist, and did not receive intensive psychiatric treatment at the facility.
Department of Justice Broadening its Fraud Investigation
The prosecution was part of a much larger ongoing investigation led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the United States. Since its creation in 2007, the strike force has charged more than 2,300 defendants who collectively billed Medicare more than $7 billion.
Allegations of Fraud Are Disruptive and, Unless Contested, Can Devastate a Medical Practice or Business
The Department of Justice has an arsenal of weapons that it is utilizing, including:
- DEA raids
- Expulsion from the Medicare Program
- Professional Licensing Sanctions
- Upon conviction, extensive fines and jail time
The DOJ strategy is to hit its target with a broadside of charges and informational requests. The DOJ has a number of highly qualified attorneys and other experts at its disposal. If you are the subject of a Medicare investigation, you need the same sort of competent assistance on your side. While there are many good criminal defense attorneys, only a few have the specific experience required to take on the DOJ in a health care fraud case. With so much professionally at stake, an aggressive defense is the key to a successful resolution of any Medicare fraud investigation.
Have You Been Targeted?
The Criminal Defense Firm has successfully represented clients in all sorts of federal fraud proceedings, including Medicare Fraud. Among the firm’s attorneys are former federal prosecutors who understand the system and what it takes to develop a successful defense strategy. Located in Dallas, Texas, the The Criminal Defense Firm is a team of lawyers and courtroom warriors. The firm has the resources to provide the best defense possible. If you choose to work with us, we will use our decades of experience to help protect your vital interests. To start building your defense today, call 866-603-4540 or contact us online now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.