Medicare charges dismissed

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By Calen McKinney

Federal charges against a local man accused of Medicare fraud have been dismissed.

Campbellsville resident and business owner Donald James was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2006 on 20 counts of Medicare fraud.

According to a press release from the office of D

According to the indictment, James allegedly defrauded Medicare, a federal health care program, by offering and paying kickbacks in exchange for referrals of Medicare patients to his business.

The crimes were allegedly committed on 20 occasions

In May 2006, two additional defendants were added to the indictment against James. In the new indictment - called a superseding indictment - defendants Mark Hinkle and James Medical Equipment were also accused of violating Medicare's anti-kickback provisions.

James' attorney - C. Thomas Hectus of Louisville - said a superseding indictment replaces and acts as a supplement to an original indictment.

On Monday, Hectus said the charges against James were dismissed just days before the case was set to go to trial in September. He said the dismissal came as a complete shock.

"We were ready to go to trial," he said.

He said James and the U.S. Attorney's office have been involved in an unresolved dispute over the allegations for nearly three years.

Essentially, Hectus said, officials disapproved and questioned the legality of the manner in which James conducts business.

Hectus said James uses payments to solicit new clients. He said the government has told him James can't do that. However, he said, the law seems clear to him and that method is legal.

"It comes down to an interpretation of the law," he said.

Hectus said he believes the government is still maintaining that James' actions are illegal. However, he said, he still maintains that James actions are legal.

"The dispute has not been resolved to everyone's satisfaction yet," he said. "Were working on it."

According to Black's Law Dictionary, when charges are dismissed "without prejudice," the plaintiff can re-file the same charges against the defendant.

As of Monday, Hectus said, no new charges against James have been filed.

Sandy Focken, media representative for the U.S. Attorney's office, declined to comment for this story.

Hinkle's attorney, Bob Bertram of Jamestown, did not return a phone call from the News-Journal office.

- An indictment is a legal accusation only. It does not establish guilt.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 302 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com.