On August 17, 2023, Chilivis Grubman attorneys discussed a doctor that faces up to 50 years in prison for his alleged involvement in a COVID-19 healthcare fraud scheme.  Chilivis Grubman has cautioned about and highlighted the government’s enforcement actions related to COVID-19 fraud, which has continued since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law in March 2020.  

On August 23, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an unprecedented nationwide enforcement action related to COVID-19 fraud.  According to the press release, the DOJ conducted a comprehensive nationwide enforcement action between May 2023 and July 2023 aimed at combating COVID-19-related fraud, resulting in the indictment of 371 individuals on federal criminal charges (involving more than $836 million in alleged fraudulent activities. 

The creation of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force in May 2021 facilitated cooperation between different government agencies to prevent and combat pandemic-related fraud.  This nationwide enforcement action involved coordination of over 50 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Forces, the DOJ’s Criminal and Civil Divisions, and various law enforcement and government agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, IRS-CI, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Diplomatic Security Service, and various Offices of Inspectors General. The action also encompassed criminal, civil, and forfeiture proceedings.

The nationwide enforcement action covered various types of alleged fraud, including pandemic unemployment insurance benefit fraud, fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), pandemic healthcare billing fraud, fraud against the Emergency Rental Assistance program, and fraud against the IRS Employee Retention Credit program.

Key points of the nationwide enforcement action:

  1. Results of the Enforcement Action: 718 enforcement actions were undertaken, including criminal and civil charges, forfeitures, guilty pleas, sentencings, and more. The alleged potential loss was over $836 million, according to the press release.
  2. Criminal Charges: Criminal charges were filed against 371 defendants, with 119 either pleading guilty or being convicted. Over $57 million in court-ordered restitution was imposed.
  3. Civil Matters: The enforcement action included 117 civil matters, resulting in judgments exceeding $10.4 million.
  4. Forfeiture: Over $231.4 million in assets were forfeited as part of the enforcement action.
  5. Violent Crime and Transnational Connections: Some defendants were alleged to have connections to violent crime, including violent gang members accused of using pandemic relief funds for illicit activities. Additionally, 25 defendants were linked to transnational crime networks.

As a clear sign of the government’s intent to continue enforcement actions related to COVID-19 fraud, the government announced the creation of two new COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Forces to be located at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Colorado and the District of New Jersey. These strike forces are in addition to the three established in September 2022 in California, Florida, and Maryland.  According to Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, “The two new Strike Forces launched today will increase our reach as we continue to pursue fraudsters and recover taxpayer funds, no matter how long it takes.”

The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white-collar criminal investigations and healthcare fraud investigations.  If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.