When prosecutors work on a case for several years, there’s a significant investment in it. It’s not just the attorneys’ time that comes into play, but also investigators and much more. With so much put into a case, it can be shocking when the entire structure of the case begins to fall apart. Such was the case recently when a $45 million home health care fraud case suddenly collapsed, but it wasn’t due to a lack of evidence.
At issue, apparently, was that the federal prosecutors had failed to hand over key evidence to defense attorneys. It is a requirement of jurisprudence for prosecutors to turn over any and all evidence they may have to the defense team within a ‘reasonable amount of time.’ Failing to do so can sometimes lead to mistrials.
While this case against Richard and Muriel Tinimbang didn’t lead to a mistrial or dismissal, it did open up the opportunity for them to plead to lesser charges and given the evidence that seemed to have been mounted against them, means this is a significant loss for the Justice Department that has been driven to crack down on home health care fraud across the country.
According to a Chicago Tribune article, Case fizzles against couple accused of $45M health care fraud, keeping indentured servant, written by Jason Meisner:
“Monette Mojares, a longtime nurse and supervisor in one of the Tinimbangs’ companies, is slated to plead guilty to one minor felony count. Meanwhile, prosecutors agreed to drop the prosecution of Vivian Baldemor, a nurse accused of recruiting patients into the scheme, as long as she stays out of trouble, according to her lawyer Michael Leonard.
The plea deals would mark an embarrassing end of a prosecution touted in 2015 by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch as a significant part of a nationwide crackdown she called “the largest criminal health care fraud takedown” in the department’s history. The U.S. Justice Department’s health care fraud task force out of Washington led the prosecution at the trial in Chicago.”
Prosecutors claimed that the issues were not deliberate, but defense attorneys claimed the problems ended up ‘snowballing’ into a major crisis of justice for their clients. The defendants in this case appear to be close to reaching an agreement in a plea deal, but have not confirmed whether or not they agree to all the terms. There is no immediate word on penalties or fines the Tinimbangs would have to pay should they plead guilty. Richard Tinimbang could face less than a year in prison while Muriel would not see any jail time.