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Area nurse indicted on health care fraud, identity theft charges

Nearly every St. Louis residents' job brings its share of challenges from time to time. Most of the time, the challenges are connected to the job itself, but, on occasion, individuals can find themselves facing serious allegations from outsiders, based on their occupation.

This was the case recently for an area nurse who became the target of a federal investigation. The nurse, a 59-year-old man, worked at a hospital that was part of the Veterans Affairs system. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations that he dispensed pain medication without a doctor's prescription.

The man is now facing charges of health care fraud, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. The man is also facing charges of aggravated identity theft based on allegations that he used patients' information without permission.

The case illustrates how fraud and identity theft charges can be brought against people under a variety of circumstances. While fraud may be broad in its scope, the government has a high burden to meet in convicting a person on the fraud charges.

A key element of that high burden is proving the person's criminal intent. Intent is an important issue in most criminal offenses, but, in fraud cases, it may be particularly important. The difference between a person having the intent to commit fraud and the person acting without that intent may be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of the charges. Not every act of dishonesty constitutes fraud under the law, and, therefore, individuals who are charged with fraud should hold the government to its high burden of proof and protect their rights vigorously.

Source: St. Louis Business Journal, "Chesterfield VA nurse indicted on fraud charges," Samantha Liss, April 17, 2014

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