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Dec 7, 11:55 AM EST

Sentencing nears in $100 million Medicare fraud case


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys for a politically connected Florida eye doctor convicted of a $100 million Medicare fraud are arguing that the government's actual loss was significantly less.

Attorney Josh Sheptow told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra on Thursday that Dr. Salomon Melgen was ahead of his time, injecting patients with then-experimental drugs that are now approved. 

Medicare does not pay for experimental treatments, so Sheptow suggested Melgen may have falsified billing statements to get around those restrictions. Sheptow said that would be fraud, but the treatments were legitimate, making the government's loss nil on many patients. 

The amount of loss is important because it bears heavily on Marra's sentencing decision. Melgen could get a life sentence for a $100 million loss, but a minor loss could result in a short sentence. Melgen was found guilty of 67 counts, including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records in patients' files.

Melgen is charged separately with bribing New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. 

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