Often, when I am telling you about a crime taking place in Boston’s Dorchester area, it is a story about assault or guns or drugs…or maybe all three. Not today. Today, it is a tale of conspiring to defraud the federal government.
Amadiegwu O., 63, who lived in Randolph (hereinafter, the Defendant”) is a pharmacist who ran a drug store in the area.
The Defendant became the target of a joint investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Attorney General’s office, the state auditor and Boston Police.
Yesterday, he pleaded guilty in Federal District Court. In doing so, he admitted that he defrauded federal health plans out of nearly $353,000. This would be the money he collected for prescriptions he never provided to patients, according to federal officials.
According to a statement issued by United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’ office today, the Defendant admitted that the conspiracy worked as follows:
First, the Defendant would convince people with chronic health problems, such as HIV/Aids or bipolar conditions, to hand over their paper prescriptions to him.
Next, the Defendant would file paperwork with Medicaid/Medicare, falsely claiming that he had filled the prescriptions. He would then pay patients about 10 percent to 33 percent of the money he collected.
While the “patients” would get money, the Defendant never provided them with any of their medications, prosecutors said.
“Since the medications were not dispensed as intended, the customers were not receiving or taking the medications they had been prescribed,” according to prosecutors. “Many of these individuals were drug addicted, and some were homeless.”
In any case, of course, it seems that they remained untreated.
Sentencing has been set for December 16th.
The Defendant t faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
What about the co-conspirators? Wouldn’t their cases be resolved with this one?
The co-conspirators, it would seem, were the “patients”. They may well have already made their deals with the government to testify against the Defendant. It is an interesting question, but it is the prosecutor’s prerogative as to how they will charge, who they will charge and why they will do it that way.
Part of the problem of white collar crimes from the defendant’s perspective is that the charges are often a result of a long-standing and somewhat painstaking investigation by the authorities.
This is especially true when the matter is a federal case.
Aside from the various considerations prosecutors bring to analyzing a case about which I have have often written about, a new element is added.
This element is the question of how much time, trouble and money went into the investigation. In a joint investigation like this, the answer isa lot..
As I have often mentioned, sentencing in federal court is much more complicated than in state court. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines, while it is not mandated that the court follow them, are considered very seriously and usually followed. The guidelines break down various considerations the court should take into account when determining the appropriate sentence.
Both sides prepare arguments to the court as to their view of the calculations, as does the Department of Probation.
A defendant in such a case will receive positive credit for things like lack of criminal record and acceptance of responsibility. However, he will receive negative points for things like having been the organizer of this very intentional scheme.
The fact that it would seem to have victimized the participants, not to mention the funding for treatment badly needed by others will not help either.
This is one reason why it might be beneficial to have the lesser-culpable, often desperate, co-conspirators helping the prosecution. From said “patients” perspective, it helps them gain extra positive points by cooperating witht he prosecution.
Generally, one of the key issues in these cases is that of intent. While the prosecution has not yet advanced to the point where they can x-ray the defendant’s brain and present it as evidence of intent, the questions of mistake, misinterpretation or any other such argument will presented, and viewed, by various perspectives.
It is up to defense counsel to try to persuade the prosecution, judge and jury as to this key issue.
Thus, we end where we usually do. You want to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side, both during the investigation and prosecution of these matters.
There are many folks out there who felt they could handle the investigative stage alone and perhaps get “Uncle Harry”, the trusts and estates lawyer who has always helped out the family before (at a substantial discount, I might add) to represent Lil’ Joey Defendant unless and until the case is going to trial.
You can visit most of them on certain days and hours at various federal and state facilities.
Should you wish to discuss such a matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
For the original story upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://mobile.boston.com/art/34/news/local/breaking_news/2010/09/dorchester_phar