Mid-Michigan Physician Found Not Guilty of Violating Federal “Anti-Kickback” Statute
On November 30, 2012, a jury in the Federal Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids found a mid-Michigan physician not guilty in a criminal case involving alleged kickbacks for referrals of medical treatments. The federal prosecutor had originally charged nine (9) defendants in Western Michigan with Conspiracy to Receive Kickbacks and Soliciting and Receiving Kickbacks in violation of the federal “Anti-Kickback” statute. The Defendants were doctors, and other providers of medical services such as physician assistants, physical therapists and medical assistants.
All of the defendants in the case, except for the physician who chose to go to trial, had plead guilty to five (5) year federal felonies or had been dismissed after paying substantial civil penalties and accepting banishment from the Medicare and Medicaid programs for up to five (5) years.
The only physician who proceeded to trial was represented by Attorney Bernie Finn of the Sinas Dramis Law Firm in Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Finn defended the case based on the Doctor’s claim that the amounts received by him were payments for medical services and consultations actually provided and thus, were not kickbacks. The jury of 12 citizens agreed after a week of trial before the Federal District.
“The federal prosecutors are vigorously prosecuting these types of offenses,” said Mr. Finn. The penalties on these offenses are severe and they include exclusion from reimbursement in federal health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid. The medical and medically-related professions are one of the few professions that prohibit “referrals.” Doctors and other health care professionals must be very vigilant in complying with these federal statutes or risk the possibility of loss of their liberty, license and income.