Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 17, 2024
Peoria Doctor Admits $3.75 Million Health Care Fraud, Faces 30-Month Prison SentenceSource: Unsplash/Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

A Peoria doctor has admitted to defrauding health care providers out of millions, landing him a guilty plea, and a potential decade-long prison sentence hanging over his head. Linh Cao Nguyen, a physician who ran a mobile medical practice, entered his plea on one count of health care fraud, following accusations that from 2016 to 2021 he swindled various health care benefit programs out of nearly $3.75 million.

According to court documents cited by ABC15 News, the fraudster disguised his operations under four separate corporate entities and employed office staff both in the Valley and overseas, in Vietnam. While patients were seen in their homes and living facilities, Nguyen's scheme involved billing for medical services as if performed by doctors when, in reality, other staff members provided the care. The deception was augmented by employing Vietnamese staff to forge medical records with Nguyen's signature, a detail revealed in the indictment filed back in October 2021.

As reported by the Business Journal, Nguyen's confession details how thousands of false claims were submitted. His fraudulent activities not only targeted Medicare and Tricare but extended to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and UnitedHealthcare. These actions prompted a comprehensive investigation by multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a plea agreement reached in March, Nguyen consented to pay back $1.15 million to the insurance companies he defrauded, including more than $22,000 to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. While healthcare fraud carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years behind bars and a quarter-million-dollar fine, Nguyen's plea comes with a more lenient suggested sentence – no more than 30 months in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28 by U.S. District Judge John Hinderaker in Tucson.

Nguyen's case not only sheds light on the persistent problem of healthcare fraud but serves as a cautionary tale of the consequences awaiting those who attempt to cheat a system designed to aid the sick and vulnerable. His sentencing will conclude a chapter in a fraudulent saga that manipulated trust for personal gain, at the cost of reputable healthcare systems and, ultimately, the very patients in need of legitimate medical care.