Doctor gets prison time in hospice fraud investigation

Hands clutching prison bars
A Mississippi doctor was sentenced to prison for fraud after he falsely certified patients for hospice services.

A 62-year-old Mississippi doctor was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison and ordered to pay almost $2 million in restitution to the Medicare program for fraudulently referring patients to hospice.

Nathaniel Brown, of Cleveland, was the latest person sentenced as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' multiyear investigation into fraud in Mississippi. The effort is dubbed Hospice Storm. Brown was sentenced last week after he pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Brown admitted to referring patients who were not appropriate for hospice care to the Milestone Hospice and Sandanna Hospice, which led to more than $1.9 million in Medicare payments to the two agencies, the Attorney’s Office announcement said. Brown also admitted to receiving $47,750 in payments by check from the hospice owner in addition to cash payments.

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“Dr. Brown is a corrupt doctor who participated in a hospice scam to exploit patients and their families,” Derrick L. Jackson, special agent in charge of HHS’ Office of Inspector General, said in the announcement. Brown was also sentenced to three years supervised release following his prison term.

Brown’s sentencing was part of a continuing investigation into fraud by hospice providers in Mississippi. The doctor certified patients as terminally ill, making them appropriate for hospice care when they were not. He was the medical director for the two hospices.

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