LAFAYETTE — A former cardiologist who has been free for more than three years after his conviction on health care fraud charges should report to prison after losing his appeal, federal prosecutors argue.
An attorney for Dr. Mehmood Patel said Monday that he will seek to remain free pending further appeals.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed Patel’s conviction and 10-year prison sentence last week for billing government and private insurers for what prosecutors alleged was more than $2 million in unnecessary heart procedures.
Patel was sentenced in June 2009, but the 5th Circuit, in a decision that overturned a local federal judge, allowed Patel to remain free pending the appeal.
“Unlike most individuals convicted of federal crimes, Patel has enjoyed the benefit of remaining at liberty for years while his appeal was pending,” federal prosecutors wrote in court filings Thursday.
The prosecutors wrote the recent denial of the Patel’s appeal “demonstrates that there is no longer a reason to treat him differently from other convicted felons.”
Patel plans to ask the 5th Circuit for a rehearing and will oppose the prosecutor’s request that he begin serving his sentence at this time, said his attorney, Amy Adelson.
A jury in 2008 convicted Patel of 51 out of 91 counts of federal health care fraud following a trial that took nearly three months.
U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon sentenced Patel in June 2009 to 10 years in prison and ordered the doctor to pay a $175,000 fine and $387,511 in restitution.
Patel’s fines and restitution were on top of $15 million paid by area hospitals to settle malpractice cases from patients and False Claims Acts lawsuits brought by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with Patel’s work.
In the appeal of the criminal case, Patel’s attorneys argued, among other things, the health care fraud prosecution did not take into account the subjective nature of health diagnoses and the judge overseeing his trial wrongly dismissed a juror and failed to grant a mistrial when jurors could not initially reach a verdict.