The owner of the medical clinic RiteCare LLC, located in Metro Detroit, was recently sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of Medicare fraud. Prosecutors alleged that he participated in a billing scheme that defrauded the Medicare program out of $6.3 million.

In October 2011, the man pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud. Michigan court records indicate that recruiters working for the man's clinic enlisted people from the surrounding community to fake the symptoms of certain medical conditions.

The clinic would then bill Medicare for tests and services that were not needed and pay patients up to $75 for their assistance. In total, the clinic billed the federal program for $8.5 million.

As part of his punishment, the RiteCare LLC owner and his co-defendants were ordered to pay $6.4 million in restitution. He was also required to forfeit assets and bank accounts worth $99,000.

Charges of Medicare fraud are serious, and the federal government is dedicated to pursuing them. Since its creation in 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 1,330 people with federal crimes, and it's likely that hundreds more are under investigation. Unfortunately, innocent people can get caught in the wide net the government sometimes casts in its zeal to catch criminals. A person who becomes a suspect in a federal inquiry should immediately seek advice from an attorney, especially if that inquiry ends with an arrest.

A defense attorney with a great deal of experience handling federal court cases involving healthcare fraud can lead the client through the minefield that is the justice system. The attorney can also make sure the client's rights are protected and minimize the long-term consequences associated with being accused of fraud.

Source: mlive.com, "Detroit clinic owner sentenced to 5 years in prison for role in $8.5 million Medicare fraud scheme," Gus Burns, July 25, 2012