On August 24, in Brunswick, Florida, Chief U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Cecil Risher, 36, to five years of probation for conspiring to commit healthcare fraud in a scheme run from Preferred Prosthetics and Orthotics, Brunswick, Florida, and Team Orthotics and Prosthetics Inc., Houston, Texas, from January 2005 through June 2008.
As reported in The Florida Time-Union, Risher and his co-defendant and longtime friend Samuel Curtis III must split payment of $64,213 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Although unemployed, Risher has 30 days to begin paying $300 a month toward his share of the restitution.
Wood also sentenced Risher to perform 125 hours of community service in each of the five years he’s on probation.
The sentence was far below the maximum possible, five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and less than the federal sentencing guidelines, which call for a range of ten to 16 months in prison.
The sentence, Wood said, reflects Risher’s immediate acceptance of responsibility for his crime, his significant assistance to federal investigators, absence of a prior criminal record, and fact he previously had a solid work history. In addition, Risher had the strong support of family and friends in the community, many of whom wrote letters on his behalf, Wood said before imposing sentence.
On January 10, Risher pleaded guilty to conspiring with Curtis, who is awaiting sentencing, and two others to use forged prescriptions and phony claims for braces and other medical supplies to defraud Medicare out of more than $500,000.
Risher was the former office manager of Preferred Prosthetics and Orthotics and a former employee of Team Orthotics and Prosthetics, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and HHS investigation showed.
Curtis, 37, of Houston, pleaded guilty July 8 in Brunswick to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud. No sentencing date has been set.