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Press Release

Federal Jury Finds Physician Assistant Guilty Of $10 Million Medicare Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury in Charlotte returned a guilty verdict today against a physician assistant, for his role in a genetic testing scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $10 million in fraudulent claims to the Medicare program, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Colby Edward Joyner, 35, of Monroe, N.C., was convicted of one count of health care fraud and six counts of making false statements relating to health care matters.

Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tamala E. Miles, Special Agent in Charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement 

“Joyner exploited telemedicine technology to siphon off money from Medicare, a federally-funded program that so many people rely on for their health care needs,” said U.S. Attorney King. “As the telehealth field continues to grow, federal prosecutors and investigators are keeping a watchful eye for scammers who seek to exploit this platform for their own benefit.”

“Joyner took a medical oath to base his care on a patient’s needs rather than his financial interests, but he violated that oath and now must face the consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge DeWitt.

“When health care professionals cause the submission of false claims to federal health care programs, they undermine the public’s trust in the health care profession and take valuable, taxpayer-funded resources away from their intended recipients,” said Special Agent in Charge Miles.

According to trial evidence, witness testimony and documents filed with the court, in 2018 and 2019, Joyner was a physician assistant in the Charlotte area who worked as an independent contractor for a physician staffing and telemedicine company. As trial evidence established, during the relevant time frame, Joyner signed fraudulent prescriptions for medically unnecessary genetic testing, specifically cancer genomic and pharmacogenetic testing, for hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries residing in North Carolina. Joyner had never met, seen or treated the beneficiaries, and only had brief telephone conversations with them or no interactions at all.

Trial evidence showed that Joyner received from the telemedicine company and its clients pre-populated prescription forms and related records for patients who were pre-selected for genetic testing, which he then electronically signed and returned, in exchange for $12—and later $15—for each purported consultation that he performed. 

According to evidence presented at trial, to conceal that Joyner was not the beneficiaries’ treating physician and that he did not conduct medical evaluations or examinations of the beneficiaries, Joyner falsified medical records in connection with the unnecessary prescriptions and falsely certified that the genetic tests were medically necessary. The government’s evidence established that Joyner’s scheme resulted in the submission of more than $10 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare, and more than $3.6 million in payments.

Joyner was released on bond. A sentencing date has not been set. The health care fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. The charge of making false statements relating to health care matters carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, per count.

The FBI in Charlotte and HHS-OIG investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Armstrong and Matthew Warren, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Frick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 13, 2023

Health Care Fraud