Dr. Janet Johnson Hunter Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud…what was she thinking?

January 5, 2010

For more than three years, Janet Johnson-Hunter, a licensed medical doctor and former owner/manager of a private ambulance transportation company, committed fraud.  Johnson-Hunter, late this past year, pled guilty to conspiring to conceal material facts in connection with the delivery of payment for health care benefit, items and services according to a news release from the US Attorney’s office.

Johnson-Hunter changed medical records and ordered employees to change records to indicate patients’ needs to ride in an ambulance, when they did not, in order to be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid, according to a federal criminal information complaint was filed Nov. 30.   According to numerous EMT’s and billing staff, Johnson-Hunter, directly and through subordinates, directed employees to re-write medical records which indicated that patient-beneficiaries could sit upright, stand, walk or ride in a wheelchair.  The loss to Medicare/Medicaid = $400,000.

WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

First I should say, it is not for me to point the finger.  I am not here to pass judgment, that is not mine to pass.  Rather, I’d like to explore the WHY this would or did happen.  As a business ethics speaker, I know that EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE!  I have lived those words and spent time in federal prison as a result of my past misdeeds.  While I am not proud of that fact, it is a fact nonetheless.  The one thing I am able to do, as a result, is look at choices from a unique perspective.

NEED:  I can’t identify the need directly.  One would assume that to change records in order to increase billing or reimbursement from Medicare would driven by a need for money.  Seems obvious, but Bernie Madoff surely did not need the money, yet he effected one of the largest frauds in US history.  So what’s the need here?  Perhaps those who know Dr. Johnson-Hunter could help with that piece of the puzzle.  FEEL FREE TO COMMENT.

OPPORTUNITY:  It is of little doubt that any system can be manipulated.  If one person can take advantage of a system, one might say that there is a material weakness.  In this case, Janet Johnson-Hunter did not do this alone.  Rather, she used her power and influence to cause others to change records and thus deceive Medicare.  Now…a fair question is: will the Federal Government go after those who admitted to changing records or have they been given immunity from prosecution.

RATIONALIZATION:  This area is most troublesome.  Here’s a reality check…a 50 year old female medical doctor knows better.  You can’t live for half a century and earn a medical degree without having some clue that choices have consequences.  This is especially true when you involve others in the fraud.  You have to know that someone somewhere is going to reveal the truth.

Why would Dr. Janet do this..?  Perhaps that will come out as people comment.  For now, let me restate the obvious:  EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.  When you hear the words, “You will reap what you sow” let me state from experience – THEY ARE VERY TRUE.

Likely, Dr. Janet will spend time in federal prison (as did I some 15 years ago for a similar crime).  Prison is no fun as Dr. Janet will soon find out.  But, the question she has to face now, especially now since her misdeeds are brought to light, is what choices will she make now that prove redemptive in the future.

A wise man once said to me:  “You’ve made a big mistake, BUT YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE!  The choices you make today will define your life in the future and the legacy you leave for your two sons.  MAKE THOSE CHOICES WISELY!”

Comments are welcome


Mortgage Fraud Alive and Well! Justin Barker Sentenced – 7 Years and $2.3 Million in Restitution

February 26, 2008

Mortgage Fraud – this time from Jacksonville, Florida. Seems that Justin Barker, age 31 and Robert Hulbert, age 45, both pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Barker just received his sentence – 7 years in federal prison – $2.3 million in restitution and $4.4 million in forfeited property jointly and severally owned with other conspirators.

Seven years and likely bankruptcy. So what does Barker has to show for his fraudulent activities? A convicted felony record? By it’s end 20% of his life in prison? Both?

The scheme operated in 2005 and 2006. Barker negotiated the purchase of residential real estate properties, either on behalf of himself personally, on behalf of an entity he controlled, or on behalf of a third-party buyer. Barker, the entity, or the buyer entered into a purchase and sale agreement with the seller of the property. Barker then retained a licensed real estate appraiser to appraise the property at a significantly inflated price. The appraiser would appraise the property at the price that Barker requested, using inappropriate comparable properties and other fraudulent methods to obtain the price requested. At the closing on the property, Barker or an entity controlled by him would receive the difference between the loan amount, which was based on the inflated appraisal, and the actual purchase price, usually described with terms such as “assignment fee” or “payoff of second mortgage” that did not exist. This difference was the proceeds of the fraud.

During the course of the scheme, fraudulent loans totaling about $17.7 million were obtained on more than 40 properties. These loans would not have been approved but for the fraud. Barker received approximately $4.4 million in gross proceeds from the fraudulent transactions. To recover some of these illicit proceeds, the government seized from Barker a 2004 Bentley Continental, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade, a 2002 BMW 745Li, a 2005 Chaparral 330 Signature 36’ boat, a 1997 19’ Wellcraft boat, a 2006 Yamaha motorcycle, a 2001 Yamaha motorcycle, a 2-carat loose diamond, a 1-carat diamond necklace, a .5-carat diamond necklace, diamond stud earrings, and two Movado watches.eds of the fraud.

Every choice has a consequence! As a white collar crime and ethics speaker, Barker is a prime example of choices gone bad – very bad! There is a statement that is true – you will reap what you sow. While these next comments I am not proud of, but having spent time in federal prison for poor choices, I know first hand the answer to the question – was it worth it? The answer – a resounding – NO!

Barker will find that federal prison is no fun. Some call it “club fed” – let me say…it is fed – there is no club to it. Working every day for 12 cents per hour cleaning toilets and urinals is nothing that anyone would do at the “club.” My guess – Barker will have time to figure out a lot about himself. Perhaps, like me, when he emerges he will have a different perspective and can use his new found wisdom to benefit others.

More Mortgage Fraud reports to come…

Your comments are welcome!