Former Johns Hopkins Physician Pleads Guilty To Fraud Scheme Involving Travel Expense Reimbursements
July 7, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact ELIZABETH MORSE
www.justice.gov/usao/md at (410) 209-4885
Baltimore, Maryland – On July 7, 2017, Dr. Jean-Francois Geschwind, age 53, of Westport, Connecticut, pled guilty to four counts of mail fraud arising from a multi-year scheme to unlawfully obtain travel expense reimbursements from his former employer, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Geschwind was employed as a physician in the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology between 1998 and 2015.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Baltimore Field Office; and Marilyn J. Mosby, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.
According to his plea agreement, between 2007 and July 2015, Geschwind made material misrepresentations and omissions in travel expense statements that he submitted or caused to be submitted to the JHU-SOM, for the purpose of obtaining travel expense reimbursements to which he was not entitled. During this time period, Geschwind submitted multiple travel expense statements for purported business expenses, when he knew that the claimed expenses were personal, such as family vacations and meals. For example, during the summer of 2013, Geschwind obtained reimbursement from the JHU-SOM for a 13-day vacation to the United Kingdom and France by falsely representing that the he traveled to those locations to give lectures in connection with his work for the JHU-SOM. As a result of Geschwind’s material misrepresentations, the JHU-SOM issued three separate checks that included reimbursements for his family vacation.
Geschwind also obtained reimbursement from the JHU-SOM for expenses that he knew had already been paid, or would later be paid, by a second (and in some cases a third) entity. In seeking reimbursement for such expenses, Geschwind did not disclose to the JHU-SOM that he was seeking two (and in some cases three) reimbursements for the same expense.
For example, between July 1 and July 5, 2015, Geschwind traveled to Japan to attend the Asia Pacific Primary Liver Cancer Expert (APPLE) meeting. By the time he attended the APPLE meeting, Geschwind had joined the Yale School of Medicine faculty as Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology. Prior to his departure for the APPLE meeting, Geschwind arranged for reimbursement of his round-trip airfare to Japan by Company No. 1, a life-sciences company based in France. Notwithstanding this arrangement, on May 8, 2015, Geschwind sought reimbursement for the same expense from the JHU-SOM but did not disclose that he had already sought reimbursement for his round-trip airfare from Company No. 1. As a result of this material omission, the JHU-SOM issued a check to Geschwind that included reimbursement for his round-trip airfare to and from Japan.
On or about June 22, 2015, Geschwind sought reimbursement from the Yale School of Medicine for the above-referenced round-trip airfare to Japan. Geschwind did not disclose to Yale that he had already arranged for payment of the same expense by Company No. 1, or that he had in fact been reimbursed for that expense by the JHU-SOM. On or about July 21, 2015, as a result of Geschwind’s material omissions, Yale University issued a check to Geschwind for the cost of the round-trip airline ticket.
In July of 2015, Company No. 1 initiated a wire transfer to Geschwind’s Bank of America checking account that included reimbursement for his round-trip airline ticket to Japan. Accordingly, as a result of the material omissions, Geschwind obtained three separate payments, from three separate entities, for the round-trip airfare to Japan in July of 2015.
Through the various methods identified above, Geschwind obtained money with an aggregate value of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the form of travel expense reimbursements by the JHU-SOM.
Johns Hopkins investigators in the Office of Hopkins Internal Audit (OHIA) conducted an extensive audit of Geschwind’s reimbursement requests and upon discovering he had requested and received significant sums of inappropriate payments, they referred the case to law enforcement. Hopkins investigators worked closely with authorities to assist with their investigation.
Geschwind faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for September 7, 2017 at 12:00 p.m.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FBI and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorney Peter J. Martinez and Special Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Huggins, who are prosecuting the case.