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Some clinics say unfairly targeted in drug rehab fraud probe

Officials at a number of clinics that are being targeted by an investigatory probe into alleged acts of taxpayer fraud are stating that they are innocent of fraudulent behavior and are being prejudged in a rush by legislators and law enforcers to find and punish criminal culpability.

Recent disclosures surrounding a story that is unfolding in California have broad relevance in Missouri and all other states. That relevance extends especially to the assertions of alleged wrongdoers that broad-based and high-profile fraud probes often quickly ensnare innocent parties along with the guilty prior to due process and fundamental fairness playing out as legally required.

Taxpayer fraud in the medical realm is a big deal in California, just as it is everywhere else across the country. In that state, a lengthy investigation by CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting has revealed that the taxpayer-funded alcohol and drug rehabilitation program administered by a number of clinics is rife with instances of fraud. Phantom billings and services have been cited as being particularly acute problems.

A state health care agency overseeing the area announced last week that it has suspended more than 40 clinics, and the California Department of Justice states that three dozen facilities are being criminally investigated.

That rankles some clinics and close observers, who say they are being tarnished by association and without evidence of wrongdoing.

“I think that offends any concept of due process,” says one attorney who is appealing suspensions for several clinics. “These people have done nothing wrong.”

As has often been noted by commentators on white collar crime and fraudulent activity, individuals without any intent to commit wrongdoing are sometimes ensnared in probes that involve highly complex investigations. Sometimes a sloppy bookkeeping entry is construed as willful criminal wrongdoing. Sometimes the wrongful act of one individual can cast suspicion on an entire group of innocent people.

In such an instance, securing the assistance of a proven fraud defense attorney can often make a material difference in the outcome of an investigatory fraud probe.

Source: CNN Health, "CNN/CIR rehab fraud investigation spurs lawmakers into action," Christina Jewett and Will Evans, Aug. 3, 2013

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