A federal judge sentenced a south Mississippi oncologist Friday to the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after her conviction in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving chemotherapy drugs.
Dr. Meera Sachdeva, 50, who founded the Rose Cancer Center in Summit in 2005, was also ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution and a $250,000 fine. Additionally, Sachdeva will have to forfeit $6 million and four parcels of property.
Sachdeva pleaded guilty July 13 to one count of health care fraud and two counts of making false statements.
Prosecutors said Sachdeva allowed technicians at the cancer center to perform bone marrow biopsies, reuse syringes and use Chemotherapy treatments after their expiration date.
"It was impossible for us to determine, after the fact, whether any particular patient received an adequate amount of chemotherapy treatment, an inadequate amount, or an excessive amount," said Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Scott Gilbert.
Sachdeva also admitted to billing for more chemotherapy drugs than she purchased and not providing each patient with the fully prescribed dosage.
"The amount that she billed the Medicaid, Medicare, and the other private insurance was greater than what she actually purchased," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Gregory Davis.
Prosecutors the clinic was unsanitary for cancer patients, because several cancer sufferers were admitted to the hospital with infections. One doctor who testified in the trial said an infection was a contributing factor to the death of one patient.
"We just don't know and weren't able to determine, despite our best efforts, the exact causes of death of many of these patients," said Gilbert.
The judge said one reason for the maximum sentence was Sachdeva showed no serious remorse.
Brittany McCoskey, 26, the office manager at the cancer center, was sentenced to 13 months and ordered to pay more than $55,000 in restitution. She pleaded guilty May 17 to making false statements on claims. The U.S. Attorney's office says she prevented nurses from calling an ambulance for some patients at the clinic and even performed some medical procedures while employed as the office manager.
Monica Weeks, 40, was sentenced to three years probation, three years home confinement and restitution of $19,549. Weeks operated The Medical Billing Group in Madison that helped cover up fraud.
A number of the 50 former patients of the clinic, whose records have come in to question or were illegally changed, were in the courtroom. Several family members representing their deceased loved one were also in attendance.
"My sister meant a lot to my family because she had a hand in raising us. So, I'm hurt over that, but I have some closure to the fact that now I know some justice is done," said Rosetta Chairs.
Chairs mentally challenged sister received treatment at Rose Cancer Center and later died.
Earnest Whittington's wife died after being diagnosed with cancer. She also received treatment under the care of Sachdeva. He isn't sure if cancer treatments lead to her death but Whittington was happy with the outcome of the trial.
"I think considering what they had to go by, they did the best they could. I have nothing but high praise for them," explained Whittington.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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