Federal prosecutors continue to focus their efforts on preventing health care fraud, as evidenced by a recent case arising in Texas. Earlier this year, a Houston doctor (Dr. Christina Clardy) was convicted of three counts of mail fraud, 14 counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud – all relating to over $45 million in false billings to Medicare and Texas’ Medicaid programs. In particular, the scheme involved a nursing service having billed over $25 million in physical therapy services under Dr. Clardy’s physician provider numbers.
The documents produced at trial included a letter from the doctor showing her knowledge of the fraudulent activities, specifically, requiring her employer’s owner to immediately cease all billing under her number or she would notify the authorities – which she never did even though the billings continued. The evidence against Dr. Clardy was compounded by her receipt of large cash payments from the owner soon after her letter was sent.
The Court recently announced its sentence against Dr. Clardy. The sentence serves as a clear warning to physicians who are tempted by the illegal profits to be made from defrauding Medicare and Medicaid: Dr. Clardy will be spending 135 months in federal prison and must personally pay over $15 million in restitution. This sentence is in addition to the separate sentences handed out against two other convicted defendants involved in the scheme; a fourth person will be sentenced this month.