Lavaca man sentenced to 15 years in prison, ordered to pay more than $29.8 million in Medicare fraud case

Billy Joe Taylor
Billy Joe Taylor

FORT SMITH -- A Lavaca man was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering.

Billy Joe Taylor, 44, admitted in a plea agreement that, from about November 2017 through May 2021, he and co-conspirators submitted and received payment for thousands of Medicare claims totaling millions of dollars for lab tests never ordered by the referring medical provider nor done for the benefit of the patient on the claims, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Arkansas.

The fraudulent claims were submitted on behalf of five clinical labs during the time they were owned or controlled by Taylor and his co-conspirators, namely, Vitas Laboratory in Barling; Corrlabs LLC in Southern Pines, N.C.; Nations Laboratory Services LLC in Tecumseh, Okla.; Beach Tox LLC in Torrance, Calif.; and Imaginus Diagnostic Laboratory LLC in Spiro, Okla., according to the release.

"More than $130 million in Medicare claims were submitted by these labs during the time they were owned or controlled by Taylor and his co-conspirators and Medicare paid approximately $38 million on these claims," the release states.

At a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, Judge P.K. Holmes sentenced Taylor to 10 years in prison for the health care fraud charge and five years for money laundering.

Following the prison sentences, which will run consecutively, Taylor will have to undergo three years of supervised release with special conditions.

Holmes also ordered Taylor to pay more than $29.8 million in restitution to Medicare, although interest on it was waived.

One of the special conditions of Taylor's supervised release is he can't incur any new debt or establish any bank or credit accounts without approval from his probation officer until he pays his restitution in full. He will make any information about his financial status available upon request to the officer, who must be allowed to make contact with any of Taylor's financial institutions to confirm he's complying.

Taylor also has to submit to himself and his property being searched by the U.S. Probation Office based on "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity or violating any condition of his supervision, according to court documents.

Taylor pleaded innocent Nov. 23, 2021, to 16 charges of health care fraud and one charge of money laundering, according to court records. He was indicted Nov. 2.

He was released May 26, 2021, on a $100,000 secured bond with conditions of release. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Ford ordered Taylor's bond be revoked and Taylor be remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at a hearing Dec. 20, 2021, after finding he violated the conditions of his release. Ford also denied a request from Taylor's attorneys at the time to stay his decision pending an appeal.

Taylor entered an agreement on Oct. 27 pleading guilty to the charges of health care fraud and money laundering.

Maximum sentence

Billy Joe Taylor faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for his two charges.

Source: U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of Arkansas