Conspiracy conviction reversed – smoke, but no fire.

In United States v. Ganji, the Fifth Circuit reversed criminal convictions for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, noting (among other problems) these weaknesses in the government’s proof – weaknesses that could also appear in suits alleging civil conspiracies:

  • Witness perspective. “The Government’s dependence on these witnesses is almost as peculiar as the scheme’s discovery. Notably, these individuals worked in the Hammond area, while Dr. Ganji and Davis worked sixty miles away in the New Orleans area. . . . Unlike other salient cases involving conspiracy to commit health care fraud, here the Government presented eighteen witnesses, none of whom could provide direct evidence of their alleged co-conspirator’s actions because the witnesses never acted with the defendants to commit the specific charged conduct.”
  • Inference from job responsibilities. “The Government’s attempt to ascribe Davis with knowledge and agreement because of her position in the company falls far short of the necessary requirement for guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. One cannot negligently enter into a conspiracy.”
  • Plausible alternative explanations. “Finally, the Government points to the nefarious Ponchatoula meeting. It argues that Davis would not have otherwise asked Dr. Murray to meet her to sign documents that included certification forms had she not agreed to participate in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare. Again, here the direct evidence is not on the Government’s side. . . . [T]he record illustrates a different, reasonable explanation for the meeting.”

No. 16-31119-CR (Jan. 30, 2018).

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