Fraud cases can take years to investigate and to prosecute. Due to the lengthy statute of limitations in federal and state cases and the document intensive nature of fraud cases, many of the cases we handle are based on actions that occurred years before. It can then take years forth cases to be resolved.
A current case pending in Monterey County Superior Court demonstrates how this can take years even though most clients want cases to be resolved as soon as possible in order to keep their reputation, business and to get on with their lives.
In mid-2006, Pedro Eva, M.D., a licensed psychiatrist, was hired as a subcontractor by RPS to perform psychiatric services at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) pursuant to a contract between RPS and California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Under the contract, RPS psychiatrists may only charge for time actually spent in the prison. However, Dr. Eva alleged that he was not informed of that requirement; instead, he understood his job consisted of four 10-hour days, and alleged that the acting chief psychiatrist at SVSP, David Hoban, told him he should bill for 10 hours even if he was not inside the prison the whole time.
At some point in 2007, California’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began investigating the billing practices of contract psychiatrists working at SVSP. In the investigation, a number of doctors' hours were tracked using GPS, cellphone records and rental car receipts. The state alleged that some of the doctors overbilled the state by $200,000 during a three-month period by claiming they were on prison grounds when they were not.
The case turned criminal and in November 2008, an indictment was filed against Dr. Eva in Monterey County Superior Court, charging him with grand theft, presentation of fraudulent claims, and conspiracy to commit grand theft. Dr. Lee, Dr. Hoban, and others were also indicted on charges related to the submission of allegedly false time sheets.
Two of the doctors, Randy Sid and David Hoban, plead guilty to felony charges that were reduced to misdemeanor counts upon payment of restitution and completion of community service. Charges against Dr. Charles Lee were dismissed.
In early 2014, Dr. Eva’s case went to trial on charges of grand theft and filing false claims for allegedly overbilling the state for his services. Dr. Eva was convicted in February 2014, but he won a new trial on the ground that the jury received improper instructions. Six members of that same jury sent Judge Hayes a letter after the trial, saying they felt Eva was the “fall guy” in the overbilling conspiracy that started with Eva’s superior, prison chief of medical services Dr. Charles Lee, and included other prison doctors, too. “It seemed evident that Dr. Eva was a very good psychiatrist whose life has now been ruined,” the letter states. “This does not feel like justice.”
Dr. Eva goes back to court on September 30, 2014 for a trial setting date. It has been almost 6 years since charges were originally filed and has been 10 years since the billings at issue were provided. These cases can take on a life of their own and obtaining easy resolution especially when some of the codefendants have plead guilty is not a simple task. To fight these cases takes resolution an determination from the attorneys and the clients.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates, Attorneys at Law