Government officials are focusing on pandemic-related fraud. President Joseph Biden made this clear last year in his State of the Union address when he announced that the “watchdogs are back!” He referenced the sentiment in his most recent address just a few months ago.
These announcements are more than just soundbites. Various government agencies, from the Department of Justice to the Internal Revenue Service, have initiated investigations that led to prosecutions and convictions for these types of crimes.
What types of cases qualify?
The government is going after those it believes used various pandemic-related relief programs for their own personal benefit. This can result in charges against physicians, business owners, nurses, and staff.
Just this month, The United States Attorney’s Office for the Easter District of New York announced that it was pursuing criminal charges against five individuals for these crimes. The government claims that two of these individuals, certified midwives, used their midwife clinic in Albany to provide fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. The government has charged the two with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
If the government can build a successful case, the two face up to five years of imprisonment and additional financial penalties.
What if I am charged with healthcare fraud?
It is important to take the allegations seriously for two reasons. First, as noted above, the criminal penalties are severe. Second, the criminal system is just one concern. It is also important to remember that those with a professional license, like a physician or nurse, will likely need to prepare for a board investigation and could face suspension or revocation of their license.
As a result, prompt action is wise to help build a defense against these allegations.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication