Continuing our spotlight on cases announced in the recent DOJ telemedicine “takedown,” we turn to the Grand Rapids, Michigan where the government charged Dr. Hugh Deery with 17 counts of False Statements Relating to Healthcare Matters under 18 U.S.C. § 1035.
The previously sealed September 2, 2020 indictment alleges that an unnamed “marketing company” purchased “leads” for Medicare beneficiaries from various call centers. A “lead” consisted of patient data and recorded calls with the beneficiary. After purchasing the leads, the company converted them to doctor orders, exam notes, and letters of necessity. That same company then contracted with doctors – including Dr. Deery – to sign those orders, notes, and letters. In turn, the completed, signed materials were sold to DME companies that used them to support fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Dr. Deery was charged with 17 counts that correspond to 17 different notes or letters. Portions of those notes and letters are quoted in the indictment, presumably to illustrate the falsity of the statements that appear to suggest that an actual exam or conversation with the patient occurred.
Interestingly, the Deery indictment never uses the term “telemedicine” or “telehealth” anywhere in its text. The unnamed company is referred to as a “marketing company,” which may be a more accurate description for an entity that appears to have had no genuine aspects of telemedicine. As we’ve noted elsewhere, § 1035 is less common than some other charges in telemedicine cases but in many ways captures the sine qua non of the physician’s alleged conduct better than other, more generic offenses. The case, United States v. Deery, 1:20-cr-00134-RJJ, is pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.