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Former Pennsylvania prison medical director facing fraud charges

A former medical director for the Lehigh County Prison is facing multiple charges for allegedly making false claims to collect more than $36,000 in tuition grants for his children. He had previously been charged with six counts relating to evading federal taxes while collecting salaries of more than $200,000. He is now facing 11 federal charges, including mail fraud, perjury at a bankruptcy proceeding, wire fraud and failing to file tax returns, according to prosecutors.

The defendant was taken into custody on Feb. 28 and has been held without bail. If he is convicted on the charges, he may face a fine of $2.9 million and up to 108 years in prison. The federal fraud investigation caused him to lose his position with the contractor that provides medical services to Lehigh County Prison and other prisons around Pennsylvania.

The original charges stemmed from allegations that the defendant avoided paying taxes by claiming that he had taken a vow of poverty while he simultaneously collected annual salaries of at least $200,000. In an additional indictment filed on July 10, prosecutors allege that the defendant collected more than $36,000 in federal educational grants for his children by lying on student financial aid applications.

Federal fraud charges are extremely serious and carry significant penalties upon conviction, including fines, prison time and probation. However, fraud can be difficult for prosecutors to prove in court. For this reason, prosecutors may be willing to negotiate for a plea bargain rather than taking a case to trial. A criminal defense attorney with a background in federal fraud cases may conduct these negotiations on behalf of the accused.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live, "Ex-Lehigh County Prison medical director allegedly lied to get kids $36,000 in tuition grants", Sarah Cassi, July 12, 2014

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