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North Carolina doctor pleads guilty to health care, tax fraud

A physician who reportedly hid millions of dollars in income from the federal government has officially pleaded guilty to tax evasion and health care fraud. The man, who had been an owner in North Carolina's Northcross Medical Center, will also pay more than $6 million in connection with a civil fraud case that accompanied the tax evasion and health care fraud allegations. The 55-year-old man will be paying the largest-ever settlement in the Western District of North Carolina for a single physician.

Authorities say that the defendant not only wrongly billed Medicaid and Medicare for services that were not necessary, but he also hid a significant amount of money to avoid income taxes. The health care fraud reportedly occurred from 2009 to 2013, when the man and his associates allegedly over-billed the government programs for services that were either unnecessary or never performed at all. Many of the services were actually ordered for the man's family members or relatives of his staff.

The defendant could face up to 10 years' prison time for the fraud charges, along with an additional five years for tax evasion. The man was accused of hiding about $2.4 million in company earnings, which he claimed was being used for business expenses. The defendant is accused of using that money to build a palatial estate on a lake in North Carolina, withholding thousands from federal coffers.

This defendant has chosen to enter a guilty plea for the charges he faces in federal court. Although guilty pleas are appropriate for some clients, it is important to remember that they are not useful in all criminal cases. The decision to plead guilty should not be taken lightly, and it should be part of an overall legal strategy designed to protect defendants' legal rights in court.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Lake Norman doctor pleads guilty to health care fraud", June 25, 2014

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