Fischer v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“Petitioner Jeffrey Allan Fischer, while president and part owner of Quality Medical Consultants, Inc. (QMC), negotiated a $ 1.2 million loan to QMC from West Volusia Hospital Authority (WVHA), a municipal agency responsible for operating two Florida hospitals, both of which participate in the federal Medicare program. In 1993, WHVA received between $ 10 and $ 15 million in Medicare funds. After a 1994 audit of WHVA raised questions about the QMC loan, petitioner was indicted for violations of the federal bribery statute, including defrauding an organization which received benefits under a federal assistance program, 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A), and paying a kickback to one of its agents, § 666(a)(2). A jury convicted him on all counts, and the District Court sentenced him to imprisonment, imposed a term of supervised release, and ordered the payment of restitution. On appeal, petitioner argued that the Government failed to prove WHVA, as the organization affected by his wrongdoing, received “benefits in excess of $ 10,000 under a Federal program,” as required by § 666(b). In rejecting that argument and affirming the convictions, the Eleventh Circuit held that funds received by an organization constituted “benefits” within the § 666’s meaning if the source of the funds was a federal program, like Medicare, which provided aid or assistance to participating organizations. Petitioner sought review of the judgment.”

Question

“Is the so-called “exculpatory no” doctrine, excluding from criminal sanction false statements that merely deny one’s wrongdoing, consistent with the Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination?”

CONCLUSION

“Yes. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that “Health care providers such as the one defrauded by [Fischer] receive ‘benefits’ within the meaning of [the federal bribery statute].” Thus, the Medicare funds hospitals receive for treating Medicare patients subject people who bribe hospital officials to federal prosecution. “The government has a legitimate and significant interest in prohibiting financial fraud or acts of bribery being perpetrated upon Medicare providers,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the court. “Fraudulent acts threaten the program’s integrity. They raise the risk participating organizations will lack the resources…to provide the level and quality of care envisioned by the program.” Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, argued that “[t]he only persons who receive ‘benefits’ under Medicare are the individual elderly and disabled Medicare patients, not the medical providers who serve them.””

Case Information

Citation: 529 US 667 (2000)
Argued: Feb 22, 2000
Decided: May 15, 2000
Case Brief: 2000