Las Vegas Lawyer Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Conspiracy and Fraud Charges
Las Vegas, Nev. –Noel Gage, age 69, a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, has been indicted by the Federal Grand Jury on charges that he conspired with Howard Awand, doctors, and others, to engage in a fraudulent scheme to obtain client referrals to artificially inflate the value of personal injury settlements and judgments, and to obtain false and misleading testimony from doctors, announced Steven W. Myhre, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Noel Gage is charged in a Superseding Criminal Indictment with one count of Conspiracy, seven counts of Mail Fraud/Honest Services Fraud, eight counts of Money Laundering, one count of Obstruction of Justice, and Criminal Forfeiture. The Superseding Indictment was returned by the Grand Jury on May 16, 2007, and unsealed today following the arrest of Mr. Gage this morning. The initial Indictment, returned on February 28, 2007, charged Howard Awand, age 62, of Vevay, Indiana, with Conspiracy, Mail and Honest Services Fraud, Money Laundering, and Witness Tampering.
The Superseding Indictment names Noel Gage as a co-conspirator with Awand and charges that from about September 2001 to December 2003, Awand, Gage, and other unnamed co-schemer lawyers and doctors engaged in the following scheme:
- Awand recruited a network of doctors who agreed to refer patients who had personal injury claims to him in return for secret payments of money or promises of protection from medical malpractice suits;
- Awand then referred patients to personal injury lawyers, including Gage, who represented them as clients. Awand referred the patients to Gage in return for secret payments of money and promises from the lawyers not to file lawsuits against the doctors working in Awand's network;
- Gage granted Awand access to the client's confidential medical and legal information while knowingly concealing the secret promises and agreements from the client;
- After Awand gained access to the client's information, Awand and Gage directed the medical care of the client to the healthcare providers who agreed to perform medical procedures on a lien while concealing from the client that Awand had agreed to purchase the liens from the providers at steep discounts;
- Gage and Awand used the medical liens to inflate the money value of personal injury claims by concealing information from the clients such as the true cost of the healthcare procedures, and that the providers had secret agreements to sell the liens to Awand at a steep discount. They caused the clients to pay the full, non-discounted value of the liens, while knowingly concealing from the client that Awand had secretly purchased the liens;
- Gage and Awand also knowingly filed lawsuits against individuals and insurance carriers to obtain settlements or judgments by false and fraudulent means by obtaining false and misleading testimony from healthcare providers in exchange for secret money kickbacks to participants in the scheme.
The Superseding Indictment discusses two specific cases. The first case involves "Client 1." Gage allegedly paid in excess of $1,000,000 in fraudulent kickbacks to Awand and in excess of $400,000 in kickbacks to a physician working with Awand, all without "Client 1's" knowledge. The second case, involves "Client 2," who became permanently disabled following medical procedures performed by "Physicians DD, EE and FF." "Client 2" hired Gage to pursue medical malpractice claims against the physicians. Physicians DD and EE were allegedly working with Awand in the scheme, but Physician FF was not. From about the fall of 2001 to May 2002, Awand and Gage met and made plans for Physicians DD and EE to testify against Physician FF and make it appear as though Physician FF was solely liable for "Client 2's" injury. Physicians DD and EE agreed to testify falsely and in a misleading way in return for promises from Awand and Gage that they would not be sued for medical malpractice in "Client 2's" case. In May 2002, Physicians DD and EE testified falsely in depositions taken by Gage on behalf of client 2. Gage knowingly concealed from "Client 2" the scheme and roles of Awand, Gage, and Physicians DD and EE in the scheme.
The Superseding Indictment also charges Gage with Obstruction of Justice, and alleges that he attempted to conceal payments to Awand with the intent to impede the Grand Jury investigation. Gage's law firm was served with a Grand Jury subpoena on September 14, 2006. According to the Superseding Indictment, Gage knowingly failed to produce three checks drafted on his law firm account to Awand totaling approximately $1.1 million, even though Gage knew they were responsive to the subpoena.
If convicted, Mr. Gage is facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the Conspiracy charge; up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each Mail Fraud/Honest Services Fraud count; and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the Money Laundering counts and the Obstruction of Justice count.
The Government will also seek forfeiture of any properties owned by Mr. Gage and Mr. Awand, up to approximately $8 million, including but not limited to real property at 94 Tabor Hill Road, Stowe, Vermont, and funds seized from a Bank West certificate of deposit in the name of the Gage Family Trust.
Mr. Gage is scheduled for an initial appearance and arraignment before United States Magistrate Judge Robert J. Johnston at 3:00 p.m. today.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Acting United States Attorney Steven W. Myhre and Assistant United States Attorneys Crane M. Pomerantz, Roger W. Wenthe, and Paul S. Padda.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.