Making False Healthcare-Related Statements
Under federal law, it is considered a crime to make false or fraudulent statements when it comes to healthcare benefit programs. Unfortunately, many people are prosecuted for this type of prohibited conduct when they weren’t even aware that they were breaking the law. In these cases, proving a lack of intent can be crucial to getting charges reduced or dismissed altogether, so if you are being investigated for healthcare fraud, it is important to contact an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can help demonstrate your innocence.
Federal law makes it a crime for any person, even those who are not employed in the healthcare profession, to:
- Falsify, conceal, or cover up a material fact;
- Make a materially false, fraudulent, or fictitious statement; or
- Make or use a materially false document, knowing that it contains a fictitious statement.
A person can only be convicted of this offense if prosecutors can provide evidence demonstrating that he or she willfully or knowingly made the false statement. However, a person doesn’t have to have actual knowledge to be considered to have acted knowingly, as federal law defines knowingly as not only actual knowledge, but also deliberate ignorance or a reckless disregard for the truth. Furthermore, making false statements is not unlawful in all cases, as federal law only makes it a crime to make fraudulent statements in any matter related to the delivery of or payment for healthcare benefits, services, or items.
Finally, the statement must be material in order to fall under this statute, which means that it must be important enough that it would influence a decision or activity in a healthcare benefit program-related matter. It’s also important to note that a person cannot avoid conviction just because he or she made the false statement to a state official and not a federal employee. As long as the statement involved a federal benefit and all of the other elements are satisfied, a person can be charged with making a false healthcare-related statements.
Those who are convicted of making false statements could face significant penalties, including:
- Up to $11,000 in fines for each alleged claim;
- A fine equal to three times the amount of damages that the government sustained as a result of the statements;
- Exclusion from future use of federal healthcare programs;
- Criminal fines of up to $250,000; and
- Up to five years imprisonment.
With so much at stake, it is important for defendants who have been accused of making false statements to the federal government, to strongly consider retaining an attorney who is well-versed in both state and federal law and has the experience and resources to aggressively represent their interests in court.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
To speak with experienced white collar crime attorney about your pending charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. in Miami at 305-670-9919 or send us an online message. There’s no charge for initial consultations, so don’t hesitate to contact our legal team today.