Even federal prosecutors and other principals who have long worked in the criminal justice system and have candidly seen a thing or two expressed sentiments bordering on shock in the wake of sentencing recently imposed by one court.
We duly note on a relevant page of our website at the Knoxville criminal defense firm of The Lanzon Firm that federal charges “tend to be extremely serious and come with the potential of severe consequences.”
Yet even with a disclaimer, it is hard to fathom the outcome of a Medicare health fraud case that recently concluded in a Texas federal court.
The verdict: a 75-year-term for the defendant.
If that seems outsized to readers, rest assured it is. In fact, it is the lengthiest sentence ever handed down in the United States following a fraud-related health care trial.
What perplexes many case commentators — remarks range from “makes no sense at all” to “never had a sentence approaching anywhere near this” — is that government prosecutors had pushed for a 35-year prison term in the case, which was widely considered to already be a notably harsh recommendation.
And the judge more than doubled that, notwithstanding that the 50-year term marking the longest-ever fraud case outcome prior to last month’s sentencing applied to a fraud that was reportedly about 16 times larger.
And then there was the defendant herself, namely, a mother of adolescent twins and riddled by a virulent form of breast cancer that is reportedly spreading throughout her body.
Critics point out, too, that federal sentencing guidelines have been advisory — not mandatory dictates — for many years, with judges having discretion to allow for singular case circumstances.
Arguably, the above-cited case could hardly be more singular. The unprecedented outcome will certainly be noted in the national press for some time to come.