Saturday, October 24, 2020

Former Veterans Affairs official found guilty in $19 million health care fraud

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A former Veterans Affairs employee who scammed the federal agency out of $19 million, illegally netting about $1.5 million for himself, has been found guilty of felony health care fraud, conspiracy and money laundering among other crimes.

Joseph Prince, 60, of Aurora, has been ordered to home incarceration pending his sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, according to a U.S. attorney’s news release.

The verdict came back after an eight-day jury trial in Denver, U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced Thursday.

Prince was a beneficiary provider relationships specialist with the VA’s Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program, which covers medical needs of children of Korean and Vietnam wars veterans who have the spinal birth defect.

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Prince defrauded the VA’s program by signing up family members of beneficiaries as home health contractors with “sham home health entities” run by Prince’s associates, according to an indictment and evidence presented at trial. Prince knew that the sham home health entities were not authorized providers by the VA.

Prince’s referrals led to payments totaling about $20 million from the VA to the Prince-related home health agencies, which were run by associates including his wife, his brother-in-law, his half-sister and friends, the news release said. Prince referred about 45 beneficiaries as part of the scam, totaling about $19 million in fraudulent claims. He received about $1.5 million in kickbacks between December 2017 and June 2018.

“To steal from a program that is intended to help our veterans and their children who suffer from serious medical conditions is reprehensible,” Dunn said. “Mr. Prince was also harming the American taxpayers and will now pay a significant price for his actions.”

Roland Vaughn, a co-conspirator and long-time friend of Prince, has pleaded guilty to paying an illegal gratuity to a public official. He’s scheduled to be sentenced April 9. Glenn and Catherine Beach, also friends of Prince, pleaded guilty to paying an illegal gratuity. They’ll be sentenced April 1.

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Prince, who also was found guilty of paying illegal kickbacks and gratuities and conflict of interest, is scheduled to be sentenced June. 11. The government is seeking restitution of $19 million.

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