- Associated Press - Friday, September 29, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A couple was sentenced to prison after being convicted of improperly prescribing pain pills and defrauding taxpayer-funded health programs in Kentucky.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove on Thursday sentenced James Alvin “Ace” Chaney, 52, to 15 years and his wife, Lesa Chaney, 52, to six years and eight months, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported .

James Chaney was the primary physician at a clinic in Hazard he owned and Lesa Chaney was listed as its president. James Chaney was convicted on more than 150 charges for offenses between March 2006 and October 2014, according to authorities.

The clinic billed Medicare and Medicaid nearly $88 million during the conspiracy and the programs paid more than $21 million to it or other providers based on James Chaney’s referrals, according to a prosecution motion.

James Chaney was responsible for distributing millions of pills while the clinic was open, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West said in court.

The Chaneys will appeal their convictions on grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to support a conviction, defense attorneys said. The two could be ordered to pay more than $12 million in restitution, though James Chaney’s attorney, Christy Love, said he has no assets. The restitution amount will be determined later.

Lesa Chaney’s attorney, Robert L. Abell, sought a three-year sentence for her, saying it is critical that she be able to help care for her two young daughters. The couple’s oldest daughter is raising her sisters.

If the convictions and sentences are upheld on appeal, the Chaneys would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, the report said.

James Chaney has been jailed since April 2016, and Lesa Chaney since July 2016.

The clinic provided legitimate medical care to many patients, Van Tatenhove said, but he ruled that 60 percent of the billing submitted to health programs involved fraud.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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