Suspect in Medicare fraud thought to have fled the country

When facing federal criminal charges, a person can feel like they have few options. Of course, federal investigators and prosecutors attempt to make it seem like a conviction and lengthy sentence are a foregone conclusion. But individuals accused of crimes still have rights, and they can exercise these rights to contest the criminal charges against them at trial.

There is a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today about the owner of a medical clinic who apparently left the county shortly after federal investigators conducted a search of his business in relation to suspicions of Medicare fraud. Prosecutors will likely try paint this as an attempt to flee because the owner engaged in the alleged conduct. But it could also simply be a reaction to the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that even an innocent person may feel when facing these types of charges.

In the case described by the paper today, the clinic owner is accused of employing unlicensed massage therapists to treat patients and then submitting bills to Medicare that describe the treatments as physical therapy. While the suspect has left the country, no court date has yet been set in this matter, and he is not yet technically considered a fugitive.

No matter the specific underlying facts in any criminal case, prosecutors, law enforcement, and even news outlets, are likely to depict the matter as if the suspect’s guilt has already been established. But criminal suspects have a right to present their side of the story and explain their version of the events in question.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “U.S. Marshals: Indicted Doraville clinic owner on the run,” Marcus Garner, Jan. 20, 2012