Prosecutors cannot seize the ambulances and other property of a Southwest Virginia volunteer rescue squad after its acquittal on charges of health care fraud, a federal judge has ruled.
Such an effort “would seem to run counter to the interests of justice,” U.S. District Judge James Jones wrote in denying an effort by the government to forfeit assets of the Saltville Rescue Squad.
The small-town rescue squad and its president, Eddie Louthian Sr., had been charged with cheating Medicare and a private insurance company out of nearly $1 million by using ambulances to repeatedly transport three patients to and from dialysis treatment without a legitimate medical reason.
To do that, prosecutors claimed, Louthian and other rescue squad members fabricated billing statements to make it appear the patients were bedridden and in need of an ambulance, when in fact they were capable of making the half-hour trip to a dialysis center on their own.
The case is just one in a larger effort to crack down on health care fraud in Western Virginia and beyond.
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