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Doctor accused of faking cancer records to delay sentencing

Posted September 8

A New Mexico cardiologist is accused of falsifying a cancer diagnosis and treatment documents to postpone or avoid sentencing in which he faces two years in federal prison for health care fraud.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Roy G. Heilbron, 53, of Santa Fe produced and submitted fake medical documents indicating he needed prostate cancer treatment in Costa Rica to support his request to postpone being sentenced Aug. 28.

In an affidavit included with an Aug. 9 criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Raymond Mauk said he checked the medical documents Heilbron submitted and determined that Heilbron himself prepared the documents, which purportedly came from a doctor in Costa Rica. Mauk said he found that no such doctor practiced at the hospital listed.

Heilbron's Aug. 7 sentencing postponement request said he was scheduled to receive chemotherapy treatments in August. It asked that he be allowed to travel to Costa Rica for treatment that he could not afford to get in the United States because he lacked health insurance.

A skeptical federal judge presiding over the case denied the request two days later.

U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson said he found Heilbron's "claim of indigence to be somewhat suspect" because Heilbron presumably still could afford to pay his private defense lawyer. Besides, Johnson said, "the Federal Bureau of Prisons has medical facilities and qualified medical specialists qualified to treat conditions such as prostate cancer."

Johnson added that he'd never allowed a defendant to travel to another country right before sentencing in his nearly 23 years as a judge.

The judge ordered him to appear Aug. 28 for sentencing in Albuquerque. However, Heilbron was arrested Aug. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina on an arrest warrant based on the new allegations.

Federal authorities plan to transport him back to New Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Heilbron's lawyer, Donald Marks, did not immediately respond Friday to an emailed request for comment, including clarification of whether Heilbron actually has prostate cancer. The U.S. Attorney's Office announcement of the new indictment referred to "Heilbron's alleged prostate cancer diagnosis."

If convicted of false statement and obstruction of justice charges, Heilbron would face up to 15 years and 30 years in prison, respectively.

Heilbron pleaded guilty Feb. 17 to one count of health care fraud. A 24-count indictment in 2015 accused him of defrauding Medicare and other health programs by submitting false and fraudulent claims in 2010 and 2011.

His plea agreement included a two-year prison sentence.

Heilbron originally was to be sentenced June 28, but it was twice postponed due to scheduling conflicts.

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