Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a doctor from the Philippines who went into hiding after being accused of scamming a military health program out of more than $1 million in the 1990s.
The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Wisconsin moved to drop a fraud indictment against Dr. Alberto Marzan last week, saying the “prosecution is no longer viable” because of a lack of evidence. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb formally dismissed the case in an order made public Thursday.
Marzan was one of the longest-wanted fugitives in a federal investigation that has uncovered rampant fraud of the U.S. military’s Tricare program in the Philippines. Tricare insures current and retired service members and dependents worldwide.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said the indictment was dropped after a routine review of the office’s outstanding fugitive cases. He said witnesses were no longer available, including one who died, and the age and distance of the case would have made a prosecution impractical.
Vaudreuil noted the office had asked authorities in the Philippines to arrest Marzan and bring him to the U.S. under an extradition treaty, but that effort was not successful.
An Associated Press reporter who went looking for Marzan in the Philippines in 2008 found his clinic abandoned, along with the adjacent family home in Moncada. Neighbors and village officials said the doctor’s family had slipped out of town years ago and remained underground.
Marzan is the latest in the investigation to have the charges dropped against him.
Prosecutors last year dismissed indictments against a dozen other suspects, including Philippine doctors, spouses of military retirees and one Navy veteran, after agents failed to arrest them for years. The move came after Crabb ruled in one case that a lengthy pretrial delay violated a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
More than a dozen others have been convicted of defrauding the program. In the biggest case, a former health care company based in the Philippines was found guilty of submitting fraudulent and inflated claims to bilk the program out of $100 million.
Prosecutors allege that Marzan recruited dozens of military retirees and their dependents to falsely claim they received expensive services at his clinic so he could bill the program. The 35-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in 1999, alleged that he submitted false claims of $1.5 million and was supposedly reimbursed for more than $1 million between 1990 and 1996.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.