“PRACTICING MEDICINE WHILE BROWN”
VIlisini Ganesh MD is the wife of Alpha Phi Alpha Brother Naval Captin Dr. Gregory Belcher MD., an Orthopedic Surgeon, both face federal prison-time, together they have 3 pre-teenage children
NORMAN J CLEMENT RPH., DDS, NORMAN L.CLEMENT PHARM-TECH, MALACHI F. MACKANDAL PHARMD, BELINDA BROWN-PARKER, IN THE SPIRIT OF JOSEPH SOLVO ESQ., IN THE SPIRIT OF REV. C.T. VIVIAN, JELANI ZIMBABWE CLEMENT, BS., MBA., IN THE SPIRIT OF THE HON. PATRICE LUMUMBA, IN THE SPIRIT OF ERLIN CLEMENT SR., WILLIE GUINYARD BS., JOSEPH WEBSTER MD., MBA, BEVERLY C. PRINCE MD., FACS., LEROY BAYLOR, JAY K. JOSHI MD., MBA, ADRIENNE EDMUNDSON, ESTER HYATT PH.D., WALTER L. SMITH BS., IN THE SPIRIT OF BRAHM FISHER ESQ., MICHELE ALEXANDER MD., CUDJOE WILDING BS, MARTIN NDJOU, BS., RPH., IN THE SPIRIT OF DEBRA LYNN SHEPHERD, BERES E. MUSCHETT, STRATEGIC ADVISORS
BY VEENA RAO
Until Dr. Vilasini Ganesh’s ordeal began in 2016, she was living the American dream. She had a thriving medical practice, patients who looked up to her, and a beautiful home that she shared with her family― until she was accused of committing healthcare fraud and the FBI raided her Campbell Medical Group practice in Saratoga, California.
In the months that followed, Ganesh was sentenced to over five years in prison after a federal grand jury convicted her of five counts of health care fraud and five counts of making false statements. She lost her thriving medical practice, her medical license, her home, savings, and peace of mind.
Throughout the trial and in closing, Ganesh claims, the prosecutors presented an extensive array of fraudulent evidence to the jury that did not prove any false claims submitted by her, but rather the claims of a completely different provider. Also, she was forced to go to trial with an attorney who provided no defense whatsoever, in violation of her constitutional rights.
“I was prosecuted like a slave,” Ganesh told NRI Pulse. “My family, children, and I have been put through severe psychological and emotional trauma. It feels like they have a knife to my throat and a gun to my head all the time. I’ve been waking up with nightmares for the past five years.”
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CHARGED THEN SENTENCED ON FALSE EVIDENCE AND FAKE CRIMES CREATED BY THE PROSECUTORS
The one-time family medicine and urgent care physician said “her life changed upside down” when she decided to fight insurance companies for non-payment of over $500,000 inpatient care service claims dating back to 2012 for medical care provided to her patients.
“I reached out to the California Medical Association, and they gave me referrals to attorneys to reach out to. The attorneys suggested that I file a lawsuit against the insurance companies.”
She said the insurance companies retaliated with fraud complaints. The Northern California Department of Justice initiated a health care fraud case against her and secured an indictment soon after.
“The prosecutor who initiated the indictment against me was also an affiliate of a private law firm that exclusively represents private “for-profit” insurance companies. Hence, she immediately recused herself due to conflict of interest after initiating the indictment charges,” Ganesh said.
“The prosecutors presented over 40,000 patients records, billings, claims, and payments of an entirely different doctor’s office to the jury during the trial and in closing arguments as proof of my healthcare fraud crimes.”
“The Senior Advocates Group of the Supreme Court of India has an interest in ensuring that the United States Constitutional rights of Dr. Ganesh, a naturalized citizen, are upheld”
From The amici curiae:
II. Prosecutorial Misconduct Warrants Reversal in This Case.
” A more malevolent factor, in this case, is the Government’s use of insurance company data from another doctor as evidence of fraud in this case. While the Government has conceded that this has occurred and that the data was not evidence of fraud, its unilateral response has been that Dr. Ganesh’s counsel should have raised this issue before or during trial and that this can- not be “newly discovered” evidence warranting a grant of relief.
Dr. Ganesh finds herself in quite the Catch-22 in that she cannot avail herself of an attorney, whether retained or CJA-appointed, who will actually review the Government’s evidence before trial, but at the same time is expected to have made those challenges prior to trial and not after. Justice can- not be had when the panel permits the Government to benefit from its own malfeasance, or at the very least reckless negligence, while Dr. Ganesh has repeatedly sought counsel capable of acting with diligence necessary to preserve her rights and time and again has been denied.”
“Normally these types of fraud cases are initiated by Medicare or Medicaid, but no government-or taxpayer-funded program was included in our case. The prosecutors came in. They threatened me, they threatened my staff. They pressured me to take a plea deal. I was terrified, but I told them I would rather die than plead guilty. The insurance companies defrauded me. I did not defraud them.”
In August 2018, after an eight-week trial, Ganesh was sentenced to 63 months in prison for making false statements related to a health care benefits program after a federal grand jury indicted her. The jury convicted Ganesh of five counts of health care fraud and five counts of making false statements. The defendants were acquitted of the remaining counts.
During Ganesh’s sentencing hearing, the judge stated that Ganesh obstructed justice by misrepresenting her understanding of the legal system, the amount of money she was paid by insurers, and whether she understood that it was improper to “upcharge” when submitting claims to insurers. The judge also found that Ganesh had abused a position of trust by submitting false claims, according to a DOJ statement.
Ganesh and her legal counsel Lisa Rasmussen, who is executive director of ACLU, (American Civil Liberties Union) Nevada spoke to NRI Pulse recently over Zoom. Both insist that the charges were false and the jury was tricked into believing false, fabricated evidence.
A CASE OF EXTRAORDINARY RACISM AND ZYGOTE PROSECUTION
“They did not find anything against us, so they fabricated evidence. They took thousands of patients’ records, claims from another doctor’s office and blamed it on us,” Ganesh said. “We did not realize this during the trial because they had redacted the tax ID and provider names. After the trial, one of the. attorneys discovered thousands of claims in the form of spreadsheets from another doctor’s office. They committed fraud over the jury.”
As part of the evidence, checks purportedly written way back in 1988 were presented. “They sentenced me based on checks issued way back when I was a teenager in India. I wasn’t even in the US in 1988,” Ganesh said.
“Most importantly the prosecutors did not hire any medical billing experts for this entire case, Also, no audits by the government nor the insurance companies to show clear evidence of loss calculations.”
“Post-trial, Linda Rasmussen filed defense motions and proof of hard proof (CD-rom) of my patient database to show that evidence presented in trial to the jury was fraudulent.”
The defense attorney also retained several medical billing experts to show that the loss calculations were incorrect and that the insurance companies did not make payments to Ganesh.
Ganesh was acquitted of money laundering and conspiracy charges, but was convicted of 10 different charges that represent five different patient dates, Rasmussen said.
“I had said that this was a structural error and must be reversed and there should be an evidentiary hearing to determine if the government did this inadvertently or on purpose,” Rasmussen added. “But those claims were rejected by the ninth circuit appellate court.”
The other significant claim that Rasmussen brought on Ganesh’s behalf was the Sixth Amendment rights violation. (The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to an effective lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know who your accusers are and the nature of the charges and evidence against you.)
Ganesh said her trial attorney charged her over $100,000, but provided no defense whatsoever.
“In his opening arguments, he said, “I agree with the prosecutors” in front of the jury and threw me under the bus. He didn’t even have patients as witnesses. He did not show me what the government case was. He put up an insanity defense which made no sense.”
“I asked for a change of attorney twice before trial. But no inquiry was conducted. I was forced to go to trial with a bad lawyer. That’s a huge Sixth Amendment Rights violation.”
“When I tried to talk, they threatened to revoke my bail. I was very scared. I had to shut my mouth. I could have defended myself, but they did not allow me to do that,” Ganesh added.
Rasmussen sought bail pending appeal for Ganesh. Any day, Ganesh will get an order to surrender to begin her 63-month sentence.
The Ninth Circuit court has denied her appeal and affirmed the conviction. “We filed a petition for rehearing. That has been denied,” Rasmussen said. “I filed a motion to stay the mandate, to file a petition in the US Supreme Court which is the only other thing she can do.”
Ganesh told NRI Pulse her family is devastated by the developments. “I have young children whose mother will be taken away from them. My mother who lives in the Bay area has used up over 300K- her life’s savings- to help me with attorney’s legal fees. My brother is trying to help.”
Ganesh and her family are currently living in an apartment on a month-to-month lease.
Ganesh’s next step would be to get a lawyer to help with post-conviction claims, which she has to do from custody, Rasmussen said. “The most sympathetic part of her claims is the Court’s repeated ongoing denial of the right to counsel of her choice which is such an important aspect of our criminal justice system. They are really good appellate claims. The ninth circuit appellate court’s denial of those claims is just inexplicable. They didn’t even follow their own case law and authority. She is yet to litigate the ineffective counsel claim which would be her next step. This is really messed up.”
“The ninth circuit has reversed such cases before. The Supreme Court has reversed several cases based on ineffective counsel. The Northern California US district courts also the ninth circuit appellate court did not follow their own case laws for me,” said an emotional Ganesh.
DOCTORS OF COURAGE
Healthcare advocate and founder of Doctors of Courage, Linda Cheek MD, believes the Department of Justice has cookie-cutter methods that they use now against doctors, more and more of which are actually criminal in action, breaking the law in order to convict an innocent doctor.
“Even when as in Dr. Ganesh’s case, egregious false evidence is used to convict her, and when exposed, the court does nothing to correct the law-breaking or hold those who did it responsible. This gives the entire DOJ license to break the law to convict innocent people,” she told NRI Pulse via email.
“Techniques that the DOJ uses regularly, and are even being trained to use, are to modify records that are brought into trial. Changing names and dates on medical records, redacting exculpatory evidence on the chart, and altering audio recordings of visits are just some of the egregious actions. They also then force patients of the doctor to be witnesses and commit perjury or face charges of possession with intent to distribute and go to prison themselves if they don’t.”
“In all of the cases I have researched, I have yet to find a single one where these tactics have not been used to get a doctor to either plea, or be convicted in court.”
Cheek said these same tactics were used against her, “including the government calling in a prescription illegally in my name to add to my charges. Every doctor that has contacted me about their case expresses their surprise at the illegal actions the DOJ has used against them. And yet none of this is exposed.”
Ganesh believes her case could set a very dangerous precedence for government abuse of power against physicians, business owners, government contract workers, tech executives, even Wall Street CEOs.
“Anyone can be targeted, attacked, and destroyed based on false fabricated evidence,” she said.
*Veena Rao is the editor-in-chief of NRI Pulse and the author of Purple Lotus.
India Community Center of Silicon Valley Northern California
The India Community Center of Silicon Valley Northern California is devoted to supporting Indian immigrants and Indian Americans within Silicon Valley and Northern California. A non-profit organization, it provides services, community support, and cultural heritage celebrations for its constituents and has an interest in ensuring that its constituents are fairly treated within the United States and it’s myriad legal systems. There is no parent organization.
Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice
Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice is a statewide non-profit corporation dedicated to criminal justice in the state of Nevada. Its members consist of public defenders in both state and federal court and attorneys in private practice. Although most of its members are authorized to practice in Ne- vada, many of its members are also licensed to practice in California and myriad other states that reside within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Most members of NACJ are authorized to appear in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no parent organization.
ACLU Nevada is a non-profit organization dedicated to upholding civil liberties and constitutional guarantees. In addition to its hallmark advocacy of free speech and First Amendment issues, many of its organizational and efforts are focused on ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and balanced at an institutional level, particularly with regard to minorities and persons of color. ACLU Nevada regularly supports criminal justice issues that impact and touch upon the rights of constitutional rights and civil liberties of litigants where those rights and liberties are at issue within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no parent organization.
Doctors of Courage
Doctors of Courage is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end government misconduct and overreach against medical practitioners. Doc- tors of courage was founded in 2016 and has been involved in uncovering errors in prosecutions in healthcare-related cases. Doctors of Courage has an interest in Dr. Ganesh’s case given the errors made by the Government in presenting evidence that it labeled as “fraud” that was in fact not related to Dr. Ganesh. There is no parent organization.
Senior Advocates Group of the Supreme Court of India
The Senior Advocates Group is an organization located in South Delhi, India headed by Mr. Pravin Parekh, who is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has fifty-three years of experience devoted to constitutional rights, in- international law, and human rights. The Senior Advocates Group advocates for the constitutional rights of all Indian citizens, including those who have emigrated to other countries. As such, the Senior Advocates Group of the Supreme Court of India has an interest in ensuring that the United States Constitutional rights of Dr. Ganesh, a naturalized citizen, are upheld. There is no parent organization.
Eugene G. Iredale
Eugene G. Iredale is a private attorney and founding member of Iredale and Yoo located in San Diego, California. Mr. Iredale is a graduate of Harvard Law School and he has been practicing law for forty-four years. He is licensed to practice law in the state of California and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he is admitted to practice before this Court and before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Iredale has also been admitted to practice pro hac vice in jurisdictions throughout the country, both state and federal. Mr. Iredale first worked as an assistant federal public defender in San Diego before starting his own practice in the early 1980s. He has taught at the National Criminal Defense College, he has lectured on criminal law topics throughout the country, and he is by all rights a well-known and well-respected trial lawyer not only in San Diego but across the country. Mr. Iredale is the subject of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Wheat v. United States, 486 U.S. 153 (1988), a Sixth Amendment right to counsel case.
William A. Cohan
William A. Cohan is a private attorney who has been practicing law for a total of forty-four years. He is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law. He was admitted to practice in Colorado in 1976 and in California in 1989. He has been authorized to practice in the United States District Court in forty-seven different jurisdictions as well as before more courts of appeals across the country as well as before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Cohan is also a well-known and well-respected trial attorney throughout the country. Mr. Cohan is the subject of this Court’s opinion in United States v. Lillie, 989 F.2d 1054 (9th Cir. 1993), a Sixth Amendment right to counsel case.
Joseph H. Low IV
Joseph H. Low IV is currently an attorney and the founder of the Law Firm of Joseph H. Low located in southern California. He has been admitted to practice in California since 1998. He taught at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College for more than twenty years, assuming the role of director and chief instructor where he taught students from all over the country, impart- ing the principles of ethics he first learned as a United States marine and later honed through the teachings of Gerry Spence, to always act in an ethical manner beyond reproach. Mr. Low has earned several national awards from the American Board of Trial Lawyers and the Order of the Barristers. In ad- addition, he is the recipient of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Medallion for Excellence in Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of American, the American Civil Liberties.
Union, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is called upon to lecture on legal matters around the country and is also a legal analyst and commentator on legal and national media outlets. Mr. Low is the subject of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 548 U.S. 140 (2006), a Sixth Amendment right to counsel case.
Michael J. Kennedy
Michael J. Kennedy is a private attorney who has been practicing law a total of thirty-three years and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. He was admitted to practice in Colorado in 1976, California in 1989, and Nevada in 2007. He was the First Assistant Federal Defender in the District of Nevada from 2001 to 2011 and he was Chief Assistant Federal Defender from 2011 to 2016. Mr. Kennedy was in private practice from 1988 to 1992 and from 2016 to the present. From 1992 to 1993 he was an assistant federal defender in the Eastern District of Washington, and he was also an assistant federal defender in the Eastern District of California from 1993 to 1997 and in Nevada from 1997 to 2001.
Mr. Kennedy is a member of the faculty at the National Criminal Defense College, a position he has held from 2000 until the present. He has served as faculty for the United States Courts, Defender Services Office, Trial.
Skills Academy from its inception in 2009 to the present and he has served as faculty at numerous substantial presentations on behalf of the United States Courts, Defender Services Division since the mind 1990s, yearly from 2007 to the present. Additionally, Mr. Kennedy has served as faculty for the United States Department of Defense (JAG) trial skills program in 2018 as well as numerous other federal criminal training.
Amin Ebrahimi earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California Berkeley and he has graduate degrees from both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. He is a legal scholar and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California Berkeley. Mr. Ebrahimi’s research spans issues related to constitutional law, legal ethics, and political philosophy.
I have seen this before, in South Africa in September 2019, District Six Museum
Norman J Clement RPh., DDS
FOR NOW, YOU ARE WITHIN