Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Supreme Court, Thurston ...Just more Health Care Fraud

our government seems to IGNORE!!

Published : Mon, 07 Jan 2008 20:02
By : Agencies

BOSTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at its decision to impose a three-year home-confinement term on a former health care executive convicted of fraud.

Two federal judges sentenced William Thurston, who was senior vice president of Damon Clinical Testing Laboratories Inc., to three months of home confinement followed by three months of probation in 2002, but the appeals court twice tossed out the sentences as too lenient.

In December, the Supreme Court ruled judges have the freedom to hand out prison terms that don't match sentencing guidelines, and on Monday the justices sent Thurston's case back to the appeals court based on that ruling.

Thurston's attorney, Matthew D. Brown of San Francisco, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Thurston was convicted in federal court in December 2001 of one count of conspiring to defraud Medicare in a scheme that involved deceiving doctors into ordering unnecessary blood tests. Damon, which was based in Needham at the time, was ordered to pay $119 million in penalties in October 1996 for the fraud scheme.

Thurston was originally sentenced to serve the three months of home confinement, but in August 2003, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the sentence was too lenient and sentenced him to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

In January 2005, the Supreme Court ruled defendants' Sixth Amendment rights to a jury trial were violated because 18-year-old sentencing guidelines required judges to make factual decisions that affect prison time.

The Supreme Court then asked federal courts to review more than 400 appeals from defendants, including Thurston, who claimed they received overly harsh sentences under guidelines the court declared unconstitutional.

In 2006, the appeals court reviewed the case and ordered Thurston to be sentenced to no less than three years in prison.

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