Cancer doctor Meera Sachdeva and her former billing clerk are officially guilty of a multi million dollar medical care fraud case in Mississippi. [USDC No. 3:11-CR-65-1 Case: 11-60639] The doctor pleaded “guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and two counts of making false statements.” According to reports, used needles and syringes that were recycled for other patients, chemo medicines were watered down and insurance companies were dramatically overbilled. Dr. Sachdeva, 50, founded the Rose Cancer Center. Cancer centers are one of the most highly regarded medical practices, as they are often times the last lifeline a patient has.
As noted by a NY criminal defense lawyer Arkady Bukh, most would venture a guess that Dr. Sachdeva thought when she founded the center it would be the perfect opportunity to develop her career into an incredibly lucrative one. Lawyers don’t have that luxury. We must always assume a client is not guilty until it is proven without any doubt that they are guilty. The public tends to trust, or at least respect, anything a doctor says. That’s a big reason why healthcare fraud is so prevalent in our country. This woman billed government insurance companies over 15 million dollars just for chemo drugs. The funny thing is she didn’t even order that many drugs from suppliers. Not surprisingly, she got caught. Dr. Sachdeva’s practice was responsible for 11 hospitalizations from the same bacterial infection being spread at her facility. One man allegedly passed away of HIV that he contracted from the Rose Cancer Center. His family is filing a civil suit, but no formal criminal charges have been made on this count. The health department released a statement saying that no patients of the Rose Cancer Center had any blood borne viruses that could be correlated with medical care at the center. Over 300 people had to be tested for infections.
What I find interesting about this case and many others like it is the prosecutor’s willingness to make a deal. Dr. Sachdeva was accused of many things, but all of those charges just went away when she pleaded guilty. This leads me to say that her lawyer was really good at negotiation. If she had gone to trial and lost, as she was likely to since the prosecution had excellent evidence, she could have been sentenced for to up to one hundred sixty five years in prison. Not to mention she would have to have paid $3.2 million in restitution. As it stands now, her guilty plea could send her to prison for up to 20 years. It’s not a bad trade off at all. She may be able to get out of prison in a decade and enjoy her retirement years in her home country. Sachdeva has been in jail since August of 2011 awaiting trial. Because she emigrated from India, the courts ruled that she is a flight risk. This means she will receive credit for time served.
In a case such as this, it’s important to have a lawyer that has a record for standing up for immigrants’ rights. One who has an excellent background as a criminal lawyer specializing in white collar crimes, misconduct cases and fraud. Having an attorney that is willing to sit down and scour every inch of evidence and paperwork is imperative. It’s also essential to have someone who can handle tough media questions. But above all else, it’s vital to have a lawyer who knows how to drive a hard bargain with the prosecution. Without having someone like that on your side, a sentence of 165 years is very possible.