Santa Fe Cardiologist Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Justice While Awaiting Sentencing on Health Care Fraud Charge
Roy G. Heilbron Charged with Attempting to Obstruct Pending Criminal Case by Submitting Fraudulent Documents to U.S. Probation Officer
ALBUQUERQUE – Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division and U.S. Marshal Conrad E. Candelaria today announced that Roy G. Heilbron, 54, a cardiologist residing in Santa Fe, N.M., pled guilty in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to an obstruction of justice charge. The charge against Heilbron arises out of his alleged attempt to obstruct and impede sentencing proceedings in a pending criminal case.
“The administration of justice depends on the honesty and good faith of all concerned, even those charged with crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tierney. “In this case, Mr. Heilbron impeded the administration of justice by falsely claiming that he required medical treatment in Costa Rica for the purpose of delaying or avoiding sentencing for committing healthcare fraud. For this, he deserves just punishment.”
“A doctor who cheats Medicare and private insurance companies by billing them for unnecessary tests is a criminal,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Wade. “When that doctor tries to delay sentencing by lying and making up phony documents, he’s a criminal looking at possibly spending a lot more time in prison. The FBI hopes today’s guilty plea sends a message that we will not allow wrongdoers to avoid paying for their crimes.”
Heilbron was charged on Sept. 6, 2017, in a two-count indictment with making and presenting fraudulent documents regarding his medical condition to a U.S. Probation Officer, and submitting the fraudulent documents for the purpose of postponing or avoiding sentencing in a pending health care fraud prosecution. The indictment alleges that Heilbron committed the two crimes in Bernalillo County, N.M., and elsewhere, between Aug. 3, 2017 and Aug. 7, 2017.
Heilbron previously had pleaded guilty in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a health care fraud charge on Feb. 17, 2017, under a plea agreement recommending a sentence of two years of imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
On Aug. 7, 2017, Heilbron’s attorney filed a motion to continue Heilbron’s sentencing hearing, which was then scheduled for Aug. 28, 2017, to permit Heilbron to begin chemotherapy in Costa Rica for prostate cancer. The motion included two attachments: a one-page “Treatment Protocol for Roy Heilbron” dated Aug. 3, 2017, which purported to detail Heilbron’s alleged prostate cancer diagnosis, and a three-page “Clinical Summary” dated June 24, 2017, which purported to outline a four-cycle chemotherapy treatment plan. The two documents purported to be authored by a physician with offices in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Miami, Fla.
On Aug. 9, 2017, a U.S. Magistrate Judge issued a warrant for Heilbron’s arrest based on a criminal complaint setting forth the same charges as those contained in the indictment. The complaint outlined the FBI’s investigation into the claims made in the “Clinical Summary” and “Treatment Protocol,” and asserted that Heilbron created the two documents himself and that Heilbron was not a patient of the physician whose name appears on the fraudulent documents. According to the complaint, Heilbron allegedly provided the fraudulent documents to his U.S. Probation Officer on Aug. 4, 2017, in support of a request to postpone his sentencing hearing.
During today’s proceedings, Heilbron entered a guilty plea to the obstruction of justice charge of the indictment. According to the plea agreement, Heilbron acknowledged that he previously pled guilty to a health care fraud charge on Feb. 17, 2017, and had a sentencing hearing on Aug. 28, 2017. In entering his guilty plea, Heilbron admitted that on Aug. 4, 2017, he sent his Probation Officer an email requesting to postpone his sentencing hearing based on the representation that he was scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatments in Costa Rica on Aug. 14, 2017. In support of his request, Heilbron attached a clinical summary and treatment protocol purportedly authored by Heilbron’s physician. Heilbron further admitted that the email was false and created for the purpose of delaying or avoiding the sentencing hearing on his health care fraud plea, and at the time he made the request for the postponement, he was on vacation in Europe with no intention of beginning chemotherapy treatments in Costa Rica beginning on Aug. 14, 2017.
In entering the guilty plea, Heilbron acknowledged that when he sent the false email, he was on release under a July 1, 2015 order of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico relating to his health care fraud charge that put him on notice on the effect of committing crimes while on presentence release.
At sentencing, Heilbron faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, which will run consecutive to the two-year term of term of imprisonment he faces as the result of his guilty plea in the health care fraud case. Heilbron remains in federal custody pending sentencing hearings in in his obstruction of justice and health care fraud cases, which have yet to be scheduled.
The obstruction of justice case was investigated by the Santa Fe and Albuquerque offices of the FBI, with assistance from the Charlotte office of the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Santa Fe office of the FBI investigated the health care fraud case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Peña and George C. Kraehe are prosecuting both cases.