A 60-year-old Colorado Veterans Administration employee now faces up to 20 years in federal prison on charges connected to a home health scam that bilked $19 million from the VA in a year.
Following an eight-day trial a jury found Joseph Prince guilty on counts of felony health care fraud, conspiracy, payment of illegal kickbacks, money laundering and conflict of interest, according to a justice department statement.
Prince worked as a beneficiary provider relationships specialist with the VA’s Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program. The program covers medical needs for children of certain veterans of both the Korea and Vietnam wars afflicted with Spina Bifida.
He worked for the VA call center in Denver, Colorado and spoke with health care providers and their beneficiaries or families on health care needs and reimbursement.
Prince signed up family members of the program’s beneficiaries as home health contractors with “sham home health entities” run by Prince’s associates.
“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.”
Though he knew that the entities were not authorized providers by the VA, he still encouraged the family members to submit their bills and include bills for services either not provided or not allowed by the VA, according to court documents.
Prince then took payment from the home health entities for his referrals, otherwise known as “kickbacks.”
His referrals led to nearly $20 million in VA payments to the agencies, which were run by associates that included his wife, brother-in-law, half sister and friends.
Prince referred 45 beneficiaries to the shame health services.
He received an estimated $1.5 million in kickbacks from two home health entities between December 2017 and June 2018.
Roland Vaughn, a long-time friend and co-conspirator with Prince pleaded guilty in August. Glenn and Catherine Beach, also friends of Prince, also pleaded guilty to paying a kickback. All three are scheduled for sentencing in April.
Prince is scheduled for sentencing on June 11. He faces charges ranging from five to 20 years and fines of more than $2 million along with asset forfeiture and restitution for the estimated $19 million.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.