BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A 44-year-old New Orleans man has been sentenced in Baton Rouge to 15 months in federal prison for his role in frauds alleged to have cost Medicare more than $2.5 million.
The man, former physician Anthony Stephen Jase, conceded he owes taxpayers $360,293 for his limited participation in the health care frauds.
"He did not get one dime of this," Jase's attorney, J. Rodney Messina, said after the hearing. "He was trying to help people, I think."
The $360,293 was lost as a result of bogus prescriptions Jase wrote for power wheelchairs and other unnecessary medical equipment sold by two companies in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the ex-doctor admitted in court records.
Jase acknowledged he never examined or spoke with the vast majority of Medicare patients for whom the equipment was prescribed.
"The evidence showed you did not receive any of the money," U.S. District Judge James J. Brady told Jase. "(You) risked everything for what? . To me, you're an enigma."
Jase said he exercised poor judgment. "I've been called a lot of things in my life," Jase told Brady. "I am not a criminal."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Maraist told the judge many Medicare frauds depend on the cooperation of physicians who sign prescriptions without examining patients and reviewing medical files.
Maraist said Jase began cooperating with federal prosecutors and investigators immediately after his indictment in July 2010. Jase signed an admission that Medicare lost $230,963 because of power wheelchairs he prescribed for customers of a New Orleans firm, Psalms 23 DME LLC.
The Advocate reports Brady ordered Jase to report to federal prison by Feb. 10.