Sometimes Being The Low Man On The Totem Pole Doesn’t Help Much At Sentencing

totem.poles_.jpgAlex Carrazana was a Medical Assistant. He is currently serving 72 months in prison for Medicare Fraud. He was for a time employed by a clinic called Midway Medical. At that clinic his job was to help with the infusion of drugs to HIV patients for therapy for a condition called thrombocytopenia, a bleeding disorder. He was not an owner, operator or licensed health care professional. Nearly everyone connected to the alleged conspiracy and probably even the government would concede he was not a major participant in the crimes (by way of disclosure, we represented other parties in this matter).
According to the government and the plea proffers of the co-defendants who were physicians, physicians assistant and owner of Midway, the clinic billed Medicare for approximately $8,000,000 in false claims. The claims were for infusion of a drug, RhoGAM, which in many instances was not provided. It was somewhat fortunate the drug wasn’t provided because the blood tests, detailing the need for the infusion therapy, had false data because the blood of the patients was altered by a person hired by the owner to mix the blood to generate false results.
There were apparently some facts that indicated Mr. Carrazana was aware fraud was going on and at a certain point he quit, according to his lawyer because he discovered what was going on and wanted out. Rather than pleading guilty with a plea agreement as most of the co-defendants did, he plead openly to the court because he and his lawyer disagreed with the facts the prosecutors would have required him to agree to as well as several sentencing guidelines adjustments; and he would have given up his right to an appeal.
By pleading guilty without a plea agreement, he and his lawyer could challenge at sentencing and on appeal everything from the amount of loss alleged down to his role in the clinic and the conspiracy. They did exactly this, and it did not turn out well – he unfortunately received a higher sentence than some of the other co-defendants. He appealed and the United States District Court for the 11th Circuit rejected all of his arguments and upheld his sentence. (To read the opinion, click: here).
The court found that leaving a conspiracy is not enough to cut off responsibility for the acts of co-conspirators after he left, therefore he was responsible for the full $8 million dollars in fraud. In addition, even though Mr. Carrazana did nothing sophisticated himself to aid in the commission of the crime and may have been unaware of the blood mixing, the court held that he should have known that his co-defendants would do something by sophisticated means, so he was also responsible for their acts in that sense.
To read more, click: here.

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