Allegations of federal crimes can carry long-term consequences and may even result in penalties such as prison time. Those under investigation for federal health care fraud should make sure to fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.

A Michigan couple recently pleaded guilty in a Medicare fraud scheme involving millions of dollars. The 40-year-old man and his 25-year-old wife entered their pleas on Oct. 17 and are awaiting sentencing on Feb. 12, 2013 for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to reports, the couple ran the fraud schemes through Elite Wellness LLC and Carefirst Occupational & Rehabilitation Center Inc. The man apparently admitted to providing doctors monetary compensation to refer their patients receiving Medicare benefits to Elite Wellness. He reportedly also bought Medicare beneficiary identifications with the intention of making fraudulent Medicare claims for infusion therapy services at Carefirst that did not occur.

The wife was involved in the scheme by submitting the claims for the therapy services. According to court documents, she also reportedly gave patients vitamin injections under the guise of the infusion therapies.

According to reports, the couple submitted more than $13 million in fraudulent Medicare claims in a two-year span and received $5.9 million from Medicare. A little less than half of that was supposedly wired to bank accounts in Mexico and Panama. The charges against the couple carry a maximum sentencing of a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison.

As this couple pleaded guilty to the charges against them, only the sentencing remains to be seen. Those facing federal charges need to be aware of the full nature of the accusations against them to prepare the best possible defense. In some cases a plea deal may be preferable, but in others, going to trial may have the potential for a better outcome.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Troy Couple Plead Guilty In $13.4M Medicare Fraud," Oct. 18, 2012