United States v. Nora, No. 18-31078 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit reversed defendant's convictions for conspiracy to commit health care fraud (Count 1); conspiracy to pay or receive illegal health care kickbacks (Count 2); and aiding and abetting health care fraud (Count 27). Defendant was tried and convicted alongside five codefendants for his involvement in a large home health care fraud and kickback scheme in connection with his employment at Abide Home Health Care Services.
The court concluded that, even under the court's extremely deferential review of jury verdicts, there was insufficient evidence put forth at trial for a rational juror to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted with the knowledge that his conduct was unlawful. Therefore, the Government failed to prove that defendant acted "willfully" with respect to each count. In this case, there was insufficient evidence proving that defendant knew that Abide was defrauding Medicare, through "ghosting," its use of house doctors, or otherwise (Count 1); that defendant knew that Abide's referral payments constituted illegal kickbacks (Count 2); or that defendant had involvement with EvLa's treatment at Abide (let alone that he knew she was not actually homebound) (Count 27). The court vacated defendant's sentence.