Convicted Physician Doubles Prison Time Running from Justice

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By Brenna Goth

A New Mexico cardiologist must go to prison for more than four years and pay over $623,000 for charges of defrauding insurance plans, then lying about cancer treatment to skip his sentencing.

A federal district court judge in New Mexico sentenced Roy G. Heilbron on July 10 following convictions of health-care fraud and obstruction of justice. The attempt to run from the court more than doubled his sentence.

Heilbron must also pay more than $623,000 to public health programs and private insurers in restitution, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Heilbron, 54, was a holistic practitioner in Santa Fe.

Twenty-four months of Heilbron’s 51-month prison sentence is for health-care fraud. The other 27 months is for impeding his sentencing on those charges.

Lawyers representing Heilbron did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg Law. Marks & Brooklier, LLP, and the Law Office of James E. Blatt represented him.

Fake Cancer Treatment Alleged

The doctor allegedly used a range of techniques to overcharge insurance plans, such as misusing billing codes. Charges included subjecting patients to unnecessary tests, which he billed with false diagnoses codes and supported with fake symptoms entered into patients’ medical charts.

Heilbron was indicted on 24 fraud counts in 2015. A federal grand jury in the District of New Mexico found he overcharged or mischarged health-care benefit programs including Medicare. Witnesses called by Heilbron’s team said the tests were necessary to a holistic practitioner, court documents show.

Heilbron pled guilty to one of the health-care fraud counts in 2017. He then allegedly faked needing chemotherapy in Costa Rica at the time of his scheduled sentencing hearing.

In a plea agreement, Heilbron said he wrote to his probation officer that he was scheduled for chemotherapy and attached documents he said were from his doctor. But Heilbron was actually on vacation in Europe, he said, and only wanted to delay or avoid his sentencing.

A criminal complaint later charged him with using fraudulent documents for that diagnosis and treatment regime. After serving his sentence, Heilbron will be on supervised release for three years.

The case is (United States v. Heilbron, D.N.M., No. 1:17-cr-02389-W, sentencing 7/10/18).

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