Risk management: Lawyer up

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Q. I've been indicted on Medicare fraud. What now?

A. In 2005, I was interviewed by two federal investigators conducting a fraud and abuse probe into my company, and I believed everything was OK. Imagine my surprise when, months later, the local newspaper announced my indictment on the front page.

One of the biggest steps you will take is to secure legal counsel. The reality is your future is, in large measure, in the hands of attorneys. You have entered the legal arena. Good business acumen may have allowed you to succeed in growing your company, but you are no longer calling the shots and the judicial system does not operate as you think it does or should. The million-dollar question is: "How do I choose an attorney?"

I had not been in legal trouble previously and didn't prepare for such a contingency. I chose a local defense attorney, but in hindsight, an attorney who specializes in healthcare law might have been better. I highly recommend you make such decisions before you get dragged into the legal arena. You are more likely to make a good decision rather than one clouded by the emotions that accompany an actual indictment.

After you learn of your indictment, you may have some time to huddle with your attorneys--but perhaps not.

Ultimately, you will be advised to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service and you will be booked, fingerprinted and jailed before facing a federal judge who will explain the essence of the charges to you. Here you will be given a chance to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

You have entered the judicial system and, make no mistake, it is surreal.

Frank Margulis is president of Margin Consultants LLC. Reach him at www.MarginConsultants.com.