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Health care executives get prison time for white collar offenses

It should come as little surprise to people in the Tampa area that federal prosecutors take their jobs very seriously, especially when it involves cases involving the defrauding of the federal government. In some cases, however, judges will not always impose the maximum penalty in these cases, for reasons that sometimes follow more logic than federal sentencing guidelines might impart.

Earlier this week, three former executives from the health care company WellCare were sentenced to prison for their roles in attempting to keep Medicaid money that should have been returned to the state of Florida. However, the sentences in the health care fraud case were on the low end of what federal sentencing guidelines suggested -- and what prosecutors had asked for.

In imposing his sentences, the judge said that while they were serious, the amount of money that the men kept for the company was relatively insignificant. While $30 million is certainly a large sum of money, the judge said that the company received billions of dollars from the state over that period of time.

As a result, the three former executives received sentences of three years, two years and one year, respectively. Prosecutors had asked for terms on the high end of the sentencing guidelines, which could have resulted in a prison term of a decade or more. The judge, however, said the men were likely to reoffend regardless of the length of the sentence imposed. He also noted that their careers in the industry were, for all intents and purposes, over as a result of their convictions.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Judge sentences former WellCare execs to prison in Medicaid fraud," Jodie Tillman, May 19, 2014

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