Every year Medicaid fraud investigators refer hundreds of cases to the District Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution.
You will first learn about the criminal charges when a NYC police detective calls and asks you to “surrender.” The detective will not tell you much about the charges. He or she will simply give you a choice of one or two dates to surrender yourself.
This is the start of a process that could result in you spending time in jail. You should contact an experienced Medicaid fraud lawyer immediately to protect your rights.
If you surrender to the detective on your own, you will be arrested and processed. You will be fingerprinted and your “mug shot” will be taken. Your information will be sent to Albany to determine if you have any prior arrests or convictions. This can take 24 hours or longer. In the meantime, you will either be handcuffed or sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell with other people who have been arrested for all sorts of crimes.
Then you will be brought before a judge in the same clothes you slept in for an arraignment to decide on bail.
Contacting a lawyer before you surrender can make a big difference. Your lawyer can talk to the detective and an Assistant District Attorney to learn the details of the Medicaid fraud charges against you. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to avoid an arrest. In most cases, your lawyer can avoid a night in jail by working with the detective to expedite the process.
Armed with information from you, the detective, and the Assistant District Attorney, your lawyer will represent you at the arraignment and argue that you should be released on your own recognizance. In other words, your lawyer will argue that you should be released without posting any bail.
At the arraignment, your lawyer will be given an affidavit describing the evidence against you and the criminal charges. The most common Medicaid fraud charges are Grand Larceny, Welfare Fraud, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Each of these crimes is a felony that carries the potential for a prison sentence, restitution (paying back tens of thousands of dollars in benefits), fines and court costs, probation, and a criminal record.
You and your lawyer will go over the evidence and the charges together. You will discuss your response and any evidence you may have to support your side of the case. Your lawyer will advise you on possible defenses and a strategy for opposing the charges. Once you and your lawyer understand all the facts and circumstances, your lawyer will begin negotiations with the Assistant District Attorney.
If you have evidence that contradicts the evidence in the affidavit, your lawyer will present that evidence to the Assistant District Attorney in an effort to get them to drop the charges. Even if the evidence against you is strong, your lawyer will negotiate a reduction of the charges in return for paying back some or all of the benefits they claim you should not have received.
Your lawyer may also negotiate a proffer agreement. This is an agreement that allows you to present your case directly to the Assistant District Attorney with a promise that nothing you say can be used against you. If necessary, an experienced Medicaid fraud attorney can also arrange a proffer with the Chief of the District Attorney’s Welfare Fraud Unit.
In most cases, criminal charges can be reduced, even if you are guilty, by agreeing to make restitution. In some cases, the District Attorney can be convinced to drop the charges altogether. In other cases, the charges may be reduced to a misdemeanor, or even a violation which does not result in a criminal record. What happens in your case will depend on the specific facts, how much restitution they demand, and – most importantly –how you respond to the detective on day one.
If you have been told that your Medicaid fraud case is being referred for criminal prosecution, or if you have been contacted by a detective with the District Attorney’s office, you should contact an experienced Medicaid fraud defense lawyer immediately.
John Howley, Esq. has more than 27 years of experience representing clients in government investigations and criminal prosecutions. He regularly represents clients before the District Attorneys’ offices, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, the New York State Attorney General’s Office and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the NYC Bureau of Fraud Investigation. Call him directly at (212) 601-2728 to schedule a consultation.
Medicaid fraud cases are often won (or lost) at the investigation stage, Before you talk to investigators, educate yourself by downloading a free copy of our special report.