Earlier this year, a doctor, his father, and his father, pleaded guilty to conducting massive healthcare fraud. The scam happened at a chiropractic clinic where they worked and an ultrasound service.
The Gordin Medical Center was located in Wheeling, and was a front for a false billing scheme that cost healthcare carriers over $10 million. They submitted false bills that totaled $29 million between 2006 and 2012. In late April, they received their sentences in a federal court.
Dr. Vladimir Gordin Jr., the doctor at the center of the healthcare fraud scheme, was sentenced to seven years in prison. His father, Vladimir Gordin Sr., worked at the chiropractic clinic and helped to cover up the scam.
Gordin Sr. told patients who knew that the scam was going on that if they stayed silent, they would have their deductibles met for free, or even receive some of the money received by overbilling insurance carriers. Gordin Sr. was sentenced to two and a half months in prison.
Gordin Jr.’s younger brother, Alexsander Gordin, was also sentenced to two years behind bars.
Also sentenced was Michelle Kobran, the woman who ran the ultrasound service connected to the scam. Gordin Jr. referred patients to Kobran, who submitted false billing claims, and split the returns with the Gordins. She was sentenced to nine months behind bars.
The office manager at the Gordin Medical Center was also sentenced. Alina Levit created false “sign-in” sheets that listed patients who received healthcare on certain days. The treatments were never given, and the patients had never come in, but their insurance carriers were billed anyway. Levit was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 90 days of intermittent incarceration on weekends.
The healthcare fraud at the Gordin Medical Center was a family affair. If your family is caught in a similar situation, should you be afraid of getting charged?
Work with Relatives Breaking the Law and You Could Get Put Away Too
Let’s be clear. Simply working closely with someone who is committing fraud won’t necessarily land you in a federal prison. You may escape unscathed even if you know it’s going on. You only become an accomplice once you help, or if you encourage the individual to continue committing the crime.
Look at the case of Alina Levit. She didn’t submit any false claims or appear to have any sort of contact with the insurance companies who became victims of fraud. However, she created fraudulent sign-in sheets. Those are what resulted in criminal charges and a conviction.
In order to convict a family member or coworker for being an accomplice (these charges are often referred to as “aiding and abetting”), a prosecutor must prove the following:
- The crime was committed by a different individual
- The defendant “aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged” the other person to commit the crime
- The defendant acted with the knowledge that they were assisting in the crime, or had the intention to assist with the crime
That last point could potentially save an alleged accomplice. If you weren’t aware that your family member or coworker was committing fraud or other types of criminal activities, you did not intend to aid a crime – even if your actions inadvertently do end up helping.
In other words, Levit created those fake sign-in sheets knowing she was helping her coworkers commit a crime. That is why she was convicted. If, however, she faked the documents simply because she was told to do so (without knowing that her actions would benefit the criminal act), she might have been able to avoid charges and a conviction.
Knowledge and intention are very important if you are helping to commit a crime. Without either of these present in your case, you may have your federal sentence reduced or charges dropped.
Another charge that someone might face even if they didn’t participate in any of the physical acts involved in a crime is conspiracy to commit a crime. This one comes up when someone helps to plan a crime, then delegates the actual act to other people.
A charge of conspiracy doesn’t even require that an actual crime be committed. Simply planning it out can be enough.
What Does This Mean for You?
If your family members, coworkers, or other people in your inner circle are charged with a crime, keep your guard up. Knowing about the crime puts you at risk for criminal charges, even if you are not immediately arrested alongside the others. Testimony and further evidence may point to you.
If you are afraid that you may be arrested or charged with a crime, reach out to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer immediately.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.