The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a $45 million Medicare fraud case during its next term, specifically reviewing the extent to which federal prosecutors can freeze funding for defendants tied to fraud schemes, according to The Miami Herald.
The case involves Sila Luis, owner and operator of LTC Professional Consultants Inc., located in South Florida. Luis was charged with paying kickbacks to patient recruiters and submitting fraudulent claims that totaled $45 million. Her case was part of a nationwide takedown that involved 91 individuals that submitted $430 million fraudulent Medicare claims.
However, Luis sued the government after prosecutors froze her assets, arguing that not all the money was connected to the Medicare fraud charges. The case made its way through a district court in Southern Florida and a federal appeals court in Atlanta. In both cases, judges ruled that the government had the right to freeze Luis's assets, agreeing with the prosecutor's argument that Luis already spent the fraudulant funds on luxury and travel goods, according to The Huffington Post.
Luis argued that freezing her assets prevented her from obtaining counsel of her choice. Now the Supreme Court justices will consider whether the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment outweighs efforts to recover money obtained through fraudulent billing.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court heard a similar case involving New York residents who stole and resold medical equipment. In a 6-3 decision, the justices ruled that the government had the right to freeze assets regardless of whether that money is needed for the defendant to hire private attorneys, according to USA Today. However, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a scathing dissent, setting up another showdown in the Luis case.