NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on July 6 denied motions from two fraud defendants serving prison sentences of 25 years and 15 years, respectively, finding that while their diagnoses of hypertension and other medical conditions may put them at a higher risk of suffering severe complications if they contract COVID-19, the risk does not present a compelling reason to convert their sentences to home confinement (United States v. Michael Danilovich, No. 12-CR-171-02, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118069, United States v. Mikhail Zemlyansky, No. 12-CR-171-01, S.D. N.Y, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118098).
ATLANTA — A trial court did not abuse its broad discretion in limiting the testimony of a medical expert for an ophthalmologist who was eventually convicted of health care fraud for conducting unnecessary and unhelpful procedures on hundreds of mostly elderly patients, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 29 in affirming the doctor’s conviction (United States v. David Ming Pon, No. 17-11455, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20103).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 22 affirmed a federal judge in Michigan’s resentencing of a woman who was found guilty of engaging in a scheme to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, holding that her sentencing of six months’ probation was not “unreasonably long” because it was less severe than the low end of the proposed sentencing guidelines range (United States v. Nakita Washington, No. 20-1069, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19469).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on June 19 refused to convert the remaining four months of a man’s prison sentence to home confinement after he pleaded guilty to his involvement in a health care fraud scheme, finding that his diagnoses of being prediabetic and borderline obese do not meet the requirements of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for increased risk of severe complications if he contracted COVID-19 (United States v. Fernando Valdes, No. 15cr2822-CAB, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107797).
HARTFORD, Conn. — A federal judge in Connecticut on June 18 denied a motion to transfer filed by a former substance abuse clinic owner who is accused of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and wire fraud, finding that California is not a better venue for the action and that the novel coronavirus pandemic does not weigh in favor of transfer (United States v. R. Jeffrey Yates, No. 19-cr-266, D. Conn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107339).
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on May 22 denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit brought by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. claiming that two clinics and their owners violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) by submitting claims for no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from clinics that were not wholly owned by a licensed physician as required by state law, holding that the insurers sufficiently stated claims for relief (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al. v. Advantacare of Florida Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-1837-Orl-41LRH, M.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92302).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 28 upheld a man’s conviction and 85-month prison sentence for his role in an insurance fraud scheme that involved the paying of kickbacks between two clinic owners who submitted bills to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida for medical services that were never provided, finding that a federal judge in Florida did not err when admitting evidence and when calculating the amount of loss (United States v. Louis Robaina, No. 19-11171, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 16955).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 9 found that a federal judge in West Virginia did not abuse his discretion when allowing evidence regarding a prior fire at a fraud defendant’s Wharncliffe, W.Va., home, holding that the evidence of the fire was inextricably intertwined with the fraud and conspiracy allegations at issue in the case (United States v. James Edward Lester, No. 19-4333, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18129).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas appeals panel on June 5 affirmed the denial of a convicted insurance agent’s motion for a mistrial and new trial, holding that while she preserved the issue of whether a conversation between a fraud investigator and a juror was prejudicial, her arguments were precluded by the invited error doctrine (Kansas v. Jodi R. Pappada, No. 120,760, Kan. App., 2020 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 376).
CINCINNATI — The dismissal of a woman’s qui tam lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) that accused a nursing home of fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for hospice care for patients who were improperly categorized as terminally ill was affirmed by a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 3 after the panel found that the woman’s allegations were precluded by pre- and post-amendments to the statute’s public disclosure bar (United States, ex rel. Kathi Holloway v. Heartland Hospice Inc., et al., No. 19-3646, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17529).
NEWARK, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on May 29 denied a health care fraud defendant’s motion to convert the remainder of his 50-month prison sentence to home confinement and probation in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, ruling that the defendant’s medical history of obesity and hypertension does not put him at a higher risk of contracting the virus and that his role in the $3.5 million fraudulent billing scheme does not support his release from prison (United States v. Brian Catanzarite, No. 18-0362, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94478).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania appeals court panel on May 26 affirmed a ruling denying a physician’s motion for relief under the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), finding that there was not enough evidence to show that his counsel was ineffective during a hearing on his guilty plea for submitting fraudulent bills to insurers (Pennsylvania v. Daniel Raymond Nevarre, 1305 WDA 2019, 2020 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1762).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on May 19 dismissed without prejudice a relator’s False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit claiming that Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s off-label promotion of an atypical antipsychotic and a drug used to treat 24-hour non-sleep disorder in blind patients resulted in the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid (United States, ex rel. Richard Gardner v. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc., No. 17-cv-00464, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87790).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on May 15 granted the federal government’s motion in limine to preclude a woman accused of health care fraud from presenting evidence during a trial demonstrating that she had performed legitimate therapy sessions with developmentally challenged children, finding that the information is irrelevant (United States v. Marina Golfo, No. 19-cv-00095, E.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85377).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 15 affirmed the convictions of two participants in a $3.5 million Medicare fraud scheme stemming from the operation of a home health care services company for elderly patients, as well as the sentences of the two remaining participants, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the sentences were proper (United States v. Paul Emordi, et al., No. 19-10400, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 15567).
BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho appeals panel on May 13 upheld a trial judge’s ruling ordering a woman convicted of insurance fraud to pay $2,400.60 in restitution to her insurance company, holding that the judge did not err when finding that the insurer’s investigation and travel costs should be included in the amount (Idaho v. Zoe Renee Barham, No. 47241, Idaho App., 2020 Ida. App. LEXIS 45).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 12 denied a request for bail filed by a man accused of setting fire to a building as part of an insurance fraud scheme, holding that the COVID-19 pandemic does not provide a compelling reason to release him, that he is a flight risk and that he poses a danger to the community (United States v. Imad Dawara, No. 19-414-1, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83126).
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — A federal judge in Missouri on April 15 denied a motion for new trial and/or judgment as a matter of law filed by two doctors and their practices after a jury found that the defendants conspired to violate the False Claims Act (FCA) as part of a kickback scheme involving spinal surgeries, ruling that the defendants’ challenges to the jury instructions should have been raised during the trial (United States ex rel. Paul Cairns v. D.S. Medical LLC, et al., No. 12CV004, E.D. Mo., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66323).
NEWARK, N.J. — A Florida man pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks in federal court in New Jersey on May 6 for his role in a scheme that resulted in Medicare paying $4.6 million for unnecessary genetic testing that was ordered by a doctor who was not licensed to practice medicine in the state (United States v. Matthew S. Ellis, et al., No. 19cr693, D. N.J.).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An American International Group Inc. (AIG) subsidiary filed a complaint on May 11 in a Kentucky federal court alleging a captive reinsurance scheme involving a trademark infringement of its mark on counterfeit insurance policies and an attempt to defraud the public (Lexington Insurance Company v. The Ambassador Group LLC, et al., No. 20-cv-330, W.D. Ky.).