Unhappy with Sentence Fake Doc Appeals with Fake Arguments
Some criminals believe that their crimes do not deserve punishment no matter how egregious their crime. By pretending to be a physician and psychiatrist Scott C. Redman treated people with a mental illness and prescribed medicines that could have addicted or killed those he took on as “patients.” He was convicted at trial and appealed, as excessive, the sentence imposed by the trial court.
In United States of America v. Scott C. Redman, No. 17-1357, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (April 17, 2018) the trial court found that from September 2015 until his arrest in February 2016, Scott Redman posed as a psychiatrist at a Chicago medical clinic using the name and license number of Dr. Julian Lopez Garcia. He “treated” patients who suffered from a variety of mental illnesses, and he “prescribed” a variety of controlled substances. Redman is not a doctor; indeed, he did not attend school past the tenth grade.
Redman did not contest his convictions. He claims that the district court erred in determining the appropriate sentence.
Scott Redman identified himself as Dr. Julian Lopez Garcia when he responded to an advertisement for an open psychiatry position at Clarity Clinic, a downtown Chicago mental health clinic. He submitted a curriculum vitae in which he claimed to have attended the University of Connecticut for undergraduate and medical school, as well as a residency, and that he was licensed to practice medicine in the state of Illinois. In mid-September 2015, Redman interviewed with the clinic owner, Dr. Pavan Prasad, to whom he recited the lies listed on his curriculum vitae. At the close of the interview, Dr. Prasad offered him a job.
Prior to commencing employment, Redman provided falsified documentation of his credentials: an employment application, payroll application, I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form, W-9 form, photograph of an Indiana driver’s license with Redman’s picture, photocopy of an Illinois medical license, photocopy of a medical school diploma, a residency certificate for training in psychiatry, and a photocopy of a social security card.
Redman obtained many of the documents from online counterfeiting services (“fakediplomanow.com,” for example) to create some of these falsified documents. Each bore the name of Julian Lopez Garcia. In addition, Redman submitted an online Drug Enforcement Administration Form 224 using false information to obtain a DEA registration number, thereby enabling him to prescribe controlled substances. He obtained malpractice insurance by using false information as well.
During his approximately two-and-a-half months of employment at Clarity Clinic, Redman “treated” patients with a combination of therapy and controlled substances. He issued approximately 92 prescriptions for controlled substances to 57 patients. Unsurprisingly, the government’s trial presentation included evidence that Redman made errors in his practice, particularly with respect to prescriptions.
The clinic attributed Redman’s mistakes to his being a recent graduate, a “little rusty” on fundamentals that he would eventually correct. At trial, Dr. Prasad testified that he thought Redman was doing a “decent job.” By the end of his time at Clarity Clinic, Redman was seeing nearly a dozen patients a day.
Local authorities, and later the federal government, were alerted to Redman’s scheme when the real Dr. Julian Lopez Garcia reported that someone had used his State of Illinois medical license number to obtain a DEA registration number in his name.
A finding of fact is clearly erroneous only if, based upon the entire record, we are left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.
Redman challenged the “sophisticated means” enhancement. Statutes require enhancement of the sentence if the crime involved sophisticated means and the defendant intentionally engaged in or caused the conduct constituting sophisticated means.
The district court found application of the sophisticated means enhancement was appropriate based on the “ample evidence showing that the defendant caused the creation of a substantial amount of paperwork, including fake diplomas, fake resumes, and fake unauthorized licenses and made government filings in order to further and conceal his elaborate scheme.”
Redman insists that his conduct was not more complex than typical fraud. The appellate court concluded, contrary to Redman’s assertion, that the facts of this case clearly warrant application of the sophisticated means enhancement. Redman’s conduct required planning and deception sophisticated enough to fool Dr. Prasad and the clinic’s patients and involved devious maneuvers.
Finally, Redman claimed that his scheme only lasted a couple of months and involved a primitive counterfeiting website does not, in this case, diminish its sophistication. Not all of the defendant’s actions needed to be elaborate for the adjustment to apply; it is enough that, as the district court found, his actions when viewed as a whole constituted a sophisticated scheme.
Redman’s conduct involved a series of complicated and elaborate theatrics to commit and conceal his criminal conduct. The district court did not clearly err in finding that Redman’s scheme involved sophisticated means.
Conduct Involving Conscious or Reckless Risk of Death or Serious Bodily Injury
The statute calls for a two-level upward adjustment if the offense involved “the conscious or reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury.”
“Serious bodily injury” is a phrase of general applicability used frequently throughout the Guidelines and means “injury involving extreme physical pain or the protracted impairment of a function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or requiring medical intervention such as surgery, hospitalization, or physical rehabilitation.” Actual injury need not occur for the enhancement to apply.
In applying this enhancement, the district court emphasized that Redman’s patients, who had serious psychiatric problems, relied on him to diagnose and treat their illnesses. Redman had absolutely no training to equip him to do that. His conduct, both in what he did to treat patients and what he might have missed because of his lack of training, put his patients at risk.
The real Dr. Julian Lopez Garcia penned a letter that was read at sentencing, stating a doctor has to prescribe a precise dose and evaluate possible interactions with other medications. It is a complex process but if done incorrectly can have serious implications in the health of a patient and can even cause their demise. Mr. Redman put every patient’s life at stake when he recklessly decided to treat and write prescriptions under Dr. Garcia’s name.
Redman’s conduct was more egregious than that of other defendants whose conduct the courts have found warranted this enhancement.
Although it is true that sentencing determinations must be based on reliable evidence, not speculation or unfounded allegations, the district court in this case relied on ample evidence that Redman exposed his “patients” and others to the risk of tragic harm.
Although, posing as a brain surgeon performing surgery on innocent patients would have been worse this scheme, to defraud insurers, the medical community, the clinic, and his patients deserved the most serious punishment allowed by the law. The only reason some of Redman’s patients did not die was pure luck and the quick action of the real Dr. Garcia whose identity Redman had assumed.
© 2018 – Barry Zalma
This article, and all of the blog posts on this site, digest and summarize cases published by courts of the various states and the United States. The court decisions have been modified from the actual language of the court decisions, were condensed for ease of reading, and convey the opinions of the author regarding each case.
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 50 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
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