Jason R. Dunn, United States Attorney, announced that yesterday a judge sitting in U.S. District Court in Denver found Joseph Prince, of Aurora, Colorado, age 60, former Veterans Affairs (V.A.) employee, culpable of felony health care fraud, payment of illegal kickbacks and gratuities, conspiracy, money laundering complaints, and conflict of interest. The decision is the result of an eight-day judge trial before Raymond P. Moore, U.S. District Court Judge. Prince’s bond was continued, and he was directed to home confinement pending his sentencing.
According to the allegations and proof tabled at trial, Prince worked for V.A.’s Spina Bifida (S.B.) Health Care Benefits Program as a Beneficiary Provider Relationships Specialist, which caters to the diagnostic needs of children of certain retired soldiers of the Korea and Vietnam wars suffering from Spina Bifida. Prince worked for a Veteran Affairs call center in Denver and interacted with health care practitioners and Spina Bifida recipients or their families in relation to their health care needs and care compensation.
Prince swindled the Veteran Affair’s Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Plan by enrolling the program’s beneficiary’s family members as home health “contractors” with fake home health entities operated by Prince’s friends. Prince was aware that the fake home health entities were not certified providers by the V.A. He nonetheless urged the family members to table invoices despite the fact that they were not certified providers and to include the invoices for services that either were not offered or were not permitted by the V.A. He then collected payments as reimbursement from the related home health organizations for referrals he did himself to those organizations. Prince’s referrals led to payments worth approximately $20 million to Prince-related home health agencies, from the V.A., which were operated by friends including his spouse, his half-sister, his brother-in-law, and friends.
Essentially Prince referred close to 45 Spina Bifida beneficiaries to the fake home health entities. The gross amount of fake claims paid by the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program to the five Home Health Entities is worth approximately $19 million. Of that amount, Prince collected close to $1.5 million between December 2017 and June 2018 in kickbacks from two home health entities.
To defraud a program that is intended to help our retired soldiers and their children who suffer from serious medical conditions is disgraceful,” said Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney. “Mr. Prince was also hurting the American taxpayers and will now pay a noteworthy price for his actions.”
The crimes orchestrated by Joseph Prince and his friends were especially upsetting because Prince was a V.A. official,” said Special Agent in Charge, VA Office of Inspector General, Gregg Hirstein. “The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General is dedicated to holding accountable those who illegitimately profit themselves using V.A. programs planned to assist our nation’s veterans and their children, who qualify to be assisted by a workforce of the highest integrity. I am grateful for the close synchronization of the inquiring agencies and the United States Attorney’s Office to promptly end this massive fraud.”
The significant amount of fake claims Joseph Prince tabled and subsequent kickbacks he collected are an insult to government programs intended to serve the public,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Denver Field Office, Andy Tsui. “It is intolerable to exploit a position of trust for personal financial gain, and for those that do, IRS-Criminal Investigation on behalf of the true beneficiaries of government benefits programs will seek justice.”
The recent indictment of Joseph Prince is notable and demonstrates the FBI’s collaboration with the United States Attorney’s Office as we hold the accused accountable for exploiting his position as an official at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to alter government contracts for personal gain,” said Dean Phillips, FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation will carry on using all available resources to pinpoint illegal conflicts of interest and kickback schemes in government entities.”
Roland Vaughn, a long-time friend of Prince and co-conspirator, pleaded guilty to paying an illegitimate gratuity to a public official on 1st August 2019 and is set to be prosecuted by Judge Moore on 9th April 2020. Glenn and Catherine Beach, who were also associates of Mr. Prince, pled guilty to paying Prince an illegal gratuity. The Beaches will be sentenced on 1st April 2020.
Prince will be prosecuted on 11th June 2020. Felony Conflict of Interest weighs a penalty of not more than five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 or two times the gain or loss from the crime per count. Health care fraud weighs a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 or two times the gain or loss from the crime per count. Conspiring to commit a crime against the federal state weighs a penalty of not more than five years in prison, and a fine $250,000 or two times the gain or loss from the crime. Requesting/Collecting an illegitimate Gratuity weighs a penalty of not more than two years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 or two times the gain or loss from the crime per count. Illegal Monetary Transactions weighs a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, and a fine the higher of $250,000 or two times the worth of the asset involved in the transaction per count. Money Laundering weighs a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison and a fine the higher of $500,000 or twice the value of assets involved in the transaction per count.
The government will solicit forfeiture of specific properties and compensation to the Veterans Health Administration in the amount of $19 million approximately.
The VA’s Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, and IRS-CI investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anna K. Edgar and Hetal J. Doshi are prosecuting the case.
Following the detailed account of how Jason R. Dunn was able to scam the government easily by working at the V.A.’s office, it would be good if federal regulators would close such gaps that permit fraudsters such as Jason R. Dunn to carry out fraud by submitting a long list of fake invoices to federal health programs and recouping millions. Additionally, through enhanced cooperation and training, patients can help control health care fraud.
Healthcare Fraud Group is a team of seasoned defense lawyers who specialize in cases involving health fraud. We have the required experience to determine and formulate the best way to deal with a legal issue. To report any healthcare fraud case, don’t hesitate to reach us at 888-402-4054.