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Louisiana nurse acquitted in Medicare fraud trial

Found not guilty on all federal Medicare fraud charges, a Baton Rouge woman was previously accused of taking part in a scam involving 91 people in eight cities. The nurse was accused of being part of a larger plot in which Medicare was billed for care never given to patients. Convictions for the other defendant included conspiring to defraud the country or receive health care kickbacks, while the jury was undecided on whether she and her husband committed health care fraud.

Involvement of a health care company the couple was affiliated with was considered, and the white collar crime the nurse was accused of involved exaggerating the care given to patients under the company's plan. The nurse's attorney said she wasn't aware of the company's involvement, as it was accused of stealing over $17 million from Medicare between 2005 and 2011, according to court records in the Middle District of Louisiana.

During the trial, other nurses claimed they found the same problems in patients the nurse in question did. Some patients, however, said they did not have the symptoms the nurse reported. The evidence was enough for a jury to make its decision; the nurse's attorney claims he'd only seen five or six acquittals in a federal case over 34 years.

Whether charged for a dangerous offense or a crime related to fraud, it is important to have a legal defense able to sort through details on involvement and the nature of the offense. A good attorney defends an individual's rights during a trial, and helps shed light on factors proving guilt or innocence. The nurse's lawyer said she may not have known of the company's intentions, and the argument proved to work in her favor.

Source: Daily Comet, "Nurse acquitted in federal fraud trial," Katie Urbaszewski, October 17, 2012

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