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Legal defense crucial against aggressive white-collar crime enforcement

For anyone caught up in this, the ramifications could be so negative that early, strong criminal defense is very important.

We expect our government to focus on criminal problems and act to keep us all safe. In that vein, it is no surprise that federal and state law enforcement authorities are investigating all the ways that opioids are getting onto the streets, causing addiction and death across the country. One way that happens is when doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals use their professional credentials to divert legitimate and carefully controlled prescription drugs into criminal networks for illegal distribution in the community.

In addition to drug charges, these operations can result in a wide variety of white-collar crimes that do not involve violence but instead illegal financial benefits to the perpetrators.

Recent example

In Sept. 2019, federal authorities in Texas announced they were charging 58 people of which 16 were physicians or other medical professionals, with white collar crimes stemming from $66 million in alleged government health insurance fraud involving Medicare, TRICARE (military health insurance) and Medicaid as well as workers’ compensation and private insurers.

The schemes involved fraudulent billing for medically unnecessary prescription drugs (opioids and other prescription narcotics that were often never distributed) and ambulance services, alleged the Department of Justice.

The operation was a coordinated effort among several federal agencies and Texas State Medicaid Fraud Control Units. The coordinated enforcement operation was statewide and resulted in criminal charges in all four federal districts in Texas.

Criminal charges involving white-collar infractions included:

  • Money laundering
  • Tax evasion
  • TRICARE fraud
  • Medicare fraud
  • Workers’ compensation fraud
  • Private insurance fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Health care fraud
  • Medicaid fraud

Authorities also filed drug charges regarding the diversion of 6.2 million opioid pills.

Build a legal defense as early as possible

On the other side of the coin, in the pressure of trying to interrupt health care fraud and related drug crimes, it can happen that authorities cast the net too widely, resulting investigations, arrests and even charges against innocent people who were in the wrong place at the right time.

The DOJ said that it is focusing on medical professionals in the push to stop illegal release of opioids and other prescription narcotic medications. For a physician-defendant, a conviction like this could end their career. Penalties could involve loss of license, restitution, prison time, fines and more to say nothing of the negative impact on job prospects and reputation.

Any Texan who suspects they may face investigation for a white-collar crime like health care fraud or if the matter has progressed even further should speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The earlier legal counsel becomes involved on your behalf, the better.

Criminal defense attorney Anthony Cantrell of The Law Office of Anthony B. Cantrell in San Antonio and New Braunfels, Texas, defends those facing accusations of white-collar crime and other kinds of charges in the surrounding area.