In brief: Texas doctor accused in massive fraud case
Washington – Federal law enforcement officials announced charges in the largest health care fraud scam in the nation’s history, indicting a Dallas physician for bilking Medicare of nearly $375 million after he allegedly sent out “recruiters” to scoop up patients and get them to sign for treatments he never provided.
Indeed, the Medicare billings piled up by Dr. Jacques Roy grew so large over the last five years that it left outside experts wondering Tuesday why it took prosecutors so long to notice what he was doing.
Roy, 54, was arrested Tuesday at his Rockwall, Texas, home where authorities found bank statements from the Cayman Islands, a fake Texas driver’s license, and passport photos of him with and without glasses and wearing different outfits. In one room was a book titled “Hide You’re A$$ETS and Disappear.”
Taken before a federal judge in Dallas and ordered held, Roy now faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison and at least $18.5 million in fines and forfeitures.
Chavez recovering after pelvic surgery
Caracas, Venezuela – Doctors successfully extracted a tumor from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s pelvic region and he was stable and recovering in Cuba on Tuesday with family at his side, his vice president announced.
“President Chavez is in good physical condition,” Vice President Elias Jaua told the main chamber of the National Assembly, prompting a standing ovation and cries of “Onward, comandante!”
“A total extraction of the diagnosed pelvic lesion was performed, removing also the tissue surrounding the lesion,” Jaua said, reading a statement from the office of the presidency. “There were no complications related to the local organs.”
Jaua did not say when Chavez had the surgery, but said the socialist leader was stable and recovering adequately. The Venezuelan president had said the growth was likely cancerous, but there was no immediate word on whether it was malignant.
Virginia eases rule on handgun purchases
Richmond, Va. – A Virginia law limiting handgun purchases to one per month was repealed Tuesday, over the opposition of gun control supporters and survivors of victims in the Virginia Tech massacre.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the bill into law after it was passed two weeks ago by the GOP-controlled General Assembly. He did not comment on signing the bill, though he said earlier he supported repealing the law.
Bill targeting eminent domain ruling advances
Washington – The House sought Tuesday to undercut a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that gives state and local governments eminent domain authority to seize private property for economic development projects.
Sponsors of the bill, which passed by a voice vote, said it was needed because the 5-4 high court ruling skewed constitutional intentions that eminent domain apply only to land for public use projects.
That ruling, said bill co-sponsor Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., justified “the government’s taking of private property and giving it to a private business for use in the interest of creating a more lucrative tax base.”
His legislation would withhold for two years all federal development aid to states or locales that take private property for economic development. It also bars the federal government from using eminent domain for economic development purposes and gives private property owners the right to take legal action if provisions of the legislation are violated.
Sensenbrenner, a conservative, was joined in sponsoring the legislation by Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a liberal Democrat and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.