News and Press Releases

Former Alabama Organ Center Associate Director Sentenced for Fraud

June 13, 2012

BIRMINGHAM – U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor today sentenced the former associate director of the Alabama Organ Center to 12 months and a day in prison for his role in a scheme to take kickbacks from a funeral home that did business with the organ center, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.

Judge Proctor also ordered the defendant, RICHARD ALAN HICKS, 40, to pay $498,551 in restitution to the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and to forfeit $256,207 to the federal government. The Alabama Organ Center is a component of the Health Services Foundation and is the federally approved organ procurement organization for the State of Alabama.

The judge ordered Hicks to remain on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence. As a special condition of that release, if Hicks seeks employment in any occupation involving the rendering of health care services, he must inform the prospective employer of his conviction and provide a copy of his plea agreement. Hicks is scheduled to report to prison Aug. 15.

Hicks and his co-defendant, Demosthenes Lalisan, 45, pleaded guilty in November to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and mail fraud. Proctor sentenced Lalisan in May to 13 months in prison. Lalisan is the former director of the Alabama Organ Center. Hicks and Lalisan are jointly responsible for paying the $498,551 restitution. Proctor ordered Lalison to forfeit $242,344 to the government.

"The Alabama Health Services Foundation trusted Hicks to honestly contract with a funeral home. Hicks violated that trust," Vance said. "He and his co-defendant, instead, came up with a scheme to solicit and accept bribes for several years. That criminal conduct has landed him in federal prison," she said.

From about March 2007 until June 2011, Hicks received kickbacks totaling $256,207 and Lalisan solicited and received kickbacks totaling $242,344 from a local funeral home that did business with the organ center, according court documents. In exchange for the kickback payments, Hick and Lalisan promoted the funeral home and recommended its hiring by the organ center for services paid for by the Health Services Foundation. Neither Hicks nor Lalisan disclosed to the organ center or the foundation that they were receiving payments from the funeral home. Both men falsely represented to the foundation that neither of them had any financial conflicts of interest from customers, suppliers, contractors or competitors, according to court documents.

The investigation revealed no evidence that indicated Lalisan's and Hicks's conduct endangered the public or donors or recipients of organs or tissue.

This prosecution is part of President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Holt prosecuted the case.






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