Nurse sentenced in cancer clinic fraud case

djournal-Court-News2By Holbrook Mohr

Associated Press

JACKSON – A woman was sentenced on Monday to house arrest and probation for failing to report a crime at a Mississippi cancer clinic that was shut down over unsafe practices and accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud.

Courtney Michelle Young, a nurse at the clinic, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Jackson to three years on probation, with the first three months on house arrest, her lawyer said.

She pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to withholding information that the owner of Rose Cancer Center in Summit ordered nurses to make retroactive entries in patients’ files.

“I thought it was a reasonable sentence,” said Thomas Fortner, Young’s lawyer.

Fortner has said his client failed to report a crime related to patient files, not the more serious allegations faced by the clinic, such as reusing syringes on multiple patients.

Another nurse, Brittany Davis Powell, faces sentencing Friday on a similar charge.

Dr. Meera Sachdeva, who founded the clinic, is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to health care fraud and making false statements.

The Mississippi State Department of Health closed the clinic in July 2012 because of “unsafe infection control practices” after 11 patients were hospitalized with the same bacterial infection.

In sentencing Sachdeva in December 2012, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan said there was appalling behavior at the clinic, including unqualified technicians performing bone marrow biopsies. He also said syringes were reused at the facility and multiple patients’ chemotherapy drugs were drawn from the same bag.

Prosecutors had initially said the clinic watered down chemotherapy drugs, but later said that technology is not advanced enough to determine how much drugs each individual patient had received.

Authorities say the clinic billed Medicaid and Medicare for about $15.1 million during the scheme. In addition to her prison sentence, Sachdeva was ordered to repay nearly $8.2 million.

Two others have already been convicted and sentenced in the case. The office manager, Brittany McCoskey, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for making false statements. Monica Weeks of Madison, who handled the clinic’s billing from her Ridgeland firm, Medical Billing Group, was sentenced to three months’ house arrest.