NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The owner of a New Orleans medical service company and a doctor who served as the company’s medical director have been released from prison after their convictions and sentences in a $34 million Medicare fraud scheme were reversed.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday vacated the conspiracy and fraud convictions involving Elaine Davis, 61, of New Orleans, and Dr. Pramela Ganji, 68, of Harahan. Both women were released Wednesday.
Davis had been serving a 96-month sentence, while Ganji received 72 months in prison for one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud.
“The appellate court found the evidence was simply insufficient,” said attorney David Oscar Markus, who with his wife, Mona Markus, represented Ganji. “This is a rare and unique move for the appellate court to make. It shows how egregious this prosecution was. We hope this gives the government some pause before they start going after doctors who they may disagree with in terms of medical decisions.”
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Markus said the ruling effectively ends the case although the government has 30 days to ask the entire court to reconsider the decision.
“We are just so happy for Dr. Ganji and her family. This is a woman who had really dedicated her life to helping others. It was devastating to see her sitting in a federal prison,” he said in a telephone interview from his office in Miami.
“We are glad that the court of appeals could see what we had been maintaining all along, that there simply was no criminality there,” said Davis’ New Orleans-based attorney, Herb Larson. “The government in this case indicted before it had ever looked at a single patient file. After destroying my client’s business, the court looks at it and rightfully said there’s no criminality here.
“The truly unfortunate thing was while that process was unwinding, (Davis) spent over a year in prison that turns out to have been unnecessary.”