Cardiologists Acquitted Of 50 Counts Related To Health Care Fraud
In October of 2021, Dr. Jayati Gupta Rakhit, a cardiologist and internal medicine physician, was exonerated of charges of health care fraud, false statements related to healthcare matters, and distribution of controlled substance allegations. Dr. Gupta Rakhit and her husband, also a cardiologist and internist, were charged in an eighty-seven (87) count federal indictment in the Northern District of Ohio.
At trial, the Government argued that the doctors, among other things, billed for medically unnecessary tests, prescribed patients opioids and other controlled substances to induce them to attend recurring office visits and undergo unnecessary tests and procedures, recorded false diagnoses in patient records to defraud insurance companies, and issued prescriptions in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
The Government’s Case
The Government presented its case over seven weeks through testimony from more than forty-five (45) witnesses, including patients and employees of the doctors, insurance company representatives, expert medical witnesses, pharmacists, four confidential informants, and an undercover FBI agent. The evidence presented by the Government included:
- Secret audio and video recordings of the doctors during office visits with an undercover FBI agent and four confidential informants working for the FBI
- Testimony from confidential informants who were debriefed by the FBI on multiple occasions and provided the FBI with information and documents related to the doctors and their practices’ during the Government’s investigation
- Testimony from four expert medical witnesses that the doctors ordered and performed medically unnecessary tests and procedures, prescribed controlled substances outside the normal course of practice, and submitted non-billable claims for reimbursement to insurance companies
- Testimony from patients that they did not have the symptoms or diagnoses recorded in the doctors’ medical charts
- Testimony from patients that they underwent tests in exchange for controlled substance prescriptions
- Evidence that patients were given the same set of tests on an annual basis
- Evidence that the doctors were the highest billers of certain tests in the State of Ohio
In response to the Government’s presentation of evidence, and despite the complex medical issues involved in the case, the Defense was able to secure not guilty verdicts for Dr. Jayati Gupta Rakhit. The Baez Law Firm demonstrated that:
- You Can’t Trust the Message if You Can’t Trust the Messenger. At trial, the Defense exposed the biases and motives of the Government’s witnesses, as well as countless examples of the Government’s misconduct in their investigation and prosecution of the case, including evidence that:
- The FBI instructed confidential informants to lie to the doctors and say they were experiencing pain, and attempt to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances from the doctors. The informants agreed to cooperate with the FBI on the condition that they would receive something in return for their cooperation (including leniency in the sentencing of their own pending federal criminal cases, and payment from the FBI)
- The investigating FBI agents documented false information in their notes of interviews with Government witnesses
- Federal prosecutors elicited testimony from patients that they did not experience symptoms documented in the Defendants’ medical charts, despite the prosecution’s possession of medical records from unrelated third parties that documented the same symptoms being reported by the patients
- Prior to obtaining and reviewing patient medical records, the United States Government announced the indictment of the doctors in a press release, which accused the doctors of performing medical unnecessary tests and procedures over a period of seven years—something the Government could not have alleged based on the evidence in their possession at the time (undercover recordings that spanned over a period of approximately one year)
- The Unreliability of the Evidence. The Defense demonstrated at trial that after securing the initial indictment based on the undercover recordings of the confidential informants, the FBI’s next step was to seek out vulnerable and unreliable patients to add more charges to the indictment against the doctors. In doing so, the Government chose patients with severe and chronic medical conditions, and with admitted memory issues (such as dementia). The FBI, without support for their accusations, told patients they had received medically unnecessary tests, which exposed them to harm. The Defense also demonstrated that it was near impossible for someone to recall whether they experienced certain symptoms on a specific date years earlier.
- The Government’s Case was one of Second Opinions. The Baez Law Firm showed that the investigation into the doctors was prompted by non-physicians, investigated and led by FBI agents and federal prosecutors with no medical background, and supported by expert medical witnesses who could offer nothing more than second opinions concerning the Defendants’ medical decision-making.
After deliberating for approximately two weeks, the jury returned fifty (50) not guilty verdicts against the doctors, and failed to reach verdicts on the other counts. Not a single guilty verdict was returned by the jury.
This case is an example of how the government can manufacture a criminal case against exemplary hardworking individuals, based on speculation, and aided by almost unlimited resources. Although we cannot guarantee the same results, the outcome of this case demonstrates how Jose Baez, Esq., and The Baez Law Firm can advocate on your behalf to achieve the best result possible.