Nurse sentenced in cancer clinic fraud case

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A second woman has been sentenced this week to house arrest for failing to report a crime at a Mississippi cancer clinic that was shut down over unsafe practices and accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud.

Brittany Davis Powell, a nurse at the clinic, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Jackson to three years’ probation, with the first two months on house arrest.

She pleaded guilty Oct. 21 to withholding information that the owner of Rose Cancer Center in Summit ordered nurses to make retroactive entries in patients’ files.

Another nurse, Courtney Michelle Young, was sentenced on a similar charge Monday to three months house arrest.

Dr. Meera Sachdeva, the clinic’s founder, is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to health care fraud and making false statements.

The Mississippi State Department of Health closed the clinic in July 2012 because of “unsafe infection control practices” after 11 patients were hospitalized with the same bacterial infection.

During sentencing Sachdeva in December 2012, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan said there was appalling behavior at the clinic, including unqualified technicians performing bone marrow biopsies. He also said syringes were reused at the facility and multiple patients’ chemotherapy drugs were drawn from the same bag.

Prosecutors had initially said the clinic watered down chemotherapy drugs, but later said that technology is not advanced enough to determine how much drugs each individual patient had received.

Authorities say the clinic billed Medicaid and Medicare for about $15.1 million during the scheme. In addition to her prison sentence, Sachdeva was ordered to repay nearly $8.2 million.

The office manager, Brittany McCoskey, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for making false statements. Monica Weeks of Madison, who handled the clinic’s billing from her Ridgeland firm, Medical Billing Group, was sentenced to three months’ house arrest.

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