Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Jan. 18, 2023
(Highlands Ranch, Colo.) A Highlands Ranch doctor was convicted on Jan. 13 of stealing nearly $300,000 from two COVID-19 relief funds designed to help medical providers during the pandemic.
According to court documents, Francis F. Joseph began work at Springs Medical Associates in El Paso County in 2014, maintaining control of its finances until Jan. 29, 2020, when he ceded the control to another employee. He was fired on April 14, 2020.
In April 2021, Joseph was charged with theft in connection with health care, theft of government property, wire fraud, and making a false statement in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding.
On Jan. 13, after approximately six hours of deliberation, a federal jury found Joseph guilty of theft in connection with health care and wire fraud. He was acquitted of theft of government money, and the prosecution dismissed the fourth charge of a false declaration during a bankruptcy proceeding before trial.
He is scheduled to appear in court on April 6 for sentencing. Joseph is free on bond.
According to the federal indictment, Joseph opened a bank account in the name of Springs Medical on March 27, 2020, without informing the business or its employees. He made himself the sole signatory on the account, the indictment alleged. On Oct. 29-30, 2020, Joseph went to a different bank and opened two other accounts in the name of Springs Medical, similarly authorizing himself as the sole signatory.
He also held access to a bank account under a family member’s name, the indictment stated.
The indictment alleges Joseph intentionally misapplied $86,747 in Medicare funds on April 8, 2020, after he had given over control of Springs Medical Associates’ bank accounts. As a signatory, he had to acknowledge that Springs Medical is required to repay the funds.
The payment became available on April 7 in the Springs Medical bank account, and Joseph wired $92,000 from the business’s official account to the family member’s bank account.
According to the indictment, Joseph defrauded Medicare again in a similar manner on April 10, 2020, allegedly wiring about $31,782 to his family member’s bank account. He was acquitted of this count (theft of government money).
Court documents also detail how investigators believe Joseph submitted a false Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application on June 24, 2020, disguised as Springs Medical Associates, and received approximately $179,999 on June 29.
The indictment alleges Joseph used all of the funds for his own personal use and benefit, including a hotel stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and security system improvements to his home.
The indictment also alleged that on Oct. 26, 2020, Joseph tried to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Springs Medical Associates, seeking about $241,774 from the business’s official accounts and the unofficial accounts Joseph opened in the business’s name. This count (false declaration during a bankruptcy proceeding) was dismissed by the government before the trial began.
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