DENVER (CBS4) — A jury on Thursday found Joseph Prince, 60, of Aurora, guilty of felony health care fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and payment of illegal kickbacks — crimes that were committed during his employment at a call center. Prince’s tactics misdirected funds that were intended for veterans with children suffering from birth defects, according to the court documents.
The jury reached its verdict in Denver federal court after an eight-day trial.READ MORE: Colorado's Delayed Severe Weather Season Finally Ramps Up This Weekend
“To steal from a program that is intended to help our veterans and their children who suffer from serious medical conditions is reprehensible,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “Mr. Prince was also harming the American taxpayers and will now pay a significant price for his actions.”
Prince’s strategy netted nearly $19 million in payments from the Veterans Administration in little more than a year, according to prosecutors.
In the federal indictment, investigators described how Prince, a VA call center employee in Denver, set up fake home health agencies, then convinced unknowing beneficiaries to submit invoices for services to those unapproved agencies.
Those fake agencies were run by Prince’s wife, brother-in-law, half-sister and friends.READ MORE: Fire Heavily Damages Home In Forested Area Of Sedalia
Prince worked as a Relationship Specialist for the VA call center, specifically connecting health care providers with Korean and Vietnam war veterans with children needing special care for treatment of spina bifida.
Ultimately, Prince referred 45 program beneficiaries to the sham home health agencies, and directly received approximately $1.5 million in kickbacks from two of those entities between December 2017 and June 2018.
“The sizeable amount of false claims Joseph Prince submitted and subsequent kickbacks he received are an affront to government programs intended to help the public,” said Andy Tsui, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Denver Field Office. “It is unacceptable to abuse a position of trust for personal financial gain and for those that do, IRS-Criminal Investigation will seek justice on behalf of the true beneficiaries of government benefits programs.”
Prince is scheduled for senctencing on June 11. Though Prince faces considerable prison time, prosecutors intend to seek forfeiture of assets and full restitution of the VA’s funds.
Long-time friend of Prince and co-conspirator Roland Vaughn, and friends Glenn and Catherine Beach, all pleaded guilty to related federal charges late last year. They are scheduled for sentencing in April.MORE NEWS: After Small Planes Collided Over Denver Area, Woman Saw Damaged Aircraft Coming Down And 'Just Ran'