A Sebastian County lab owner was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Thursday for submitting more than $130 million in Medicare claims for tests that had never been ordered or performed.
Billy Joe Taylor, 44, of Lavaca, also was ordered to pay $29.8 million in restitution for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas.
Taylor pleaded guilty on Oct. 27. When he’s released, he will have to serve three years of probation.
Taylor and his co-conspirators submitted more than $134 million in false claims to Medicare for lab tests during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the highest amounts of health care fraud in state history. Claims were submitted for tests “that were medically unnecessary, not ordered by medical providers, and not provided as represented,” the news release said. “Taylor and his co-conspirators obtained medical information and private personal information for Medicare beneficiaries, and then misused that confidential information to repeatedly submit claims to Medicare for diagnostic tests.”
Taylor and his co-conspirators received more than $38 million from Medicare on those fraudulent claims, the news release said. Taylor allegedly used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, purchasing luxury automobiles including a Rolls Royce Wraith, jewelry, real estate, guitars and luxury clothing.
Five clinical labs that Taylor and his co-conspirators either owned or controlled submitted the false claims. Those labs are: Vitas Laboratory LLC in Barling; Corrlabs LLC in Southern Pines, North Carolina; Nations Laboratory Services LLC in Tecumseh, Oklahoma; Beach Tox LLC in Torrance, California; and Imaginus Diagnostic Laboratory LLC in Spiro, Oklahoma.
Taylor told Arkansas Business in October 2021 that the claims by the government were "completely erroneous and false."
A judge revoked Taylor’s pretrial release in December 2021 after finding probable cause that Taylor had violated travel restrictions and improperly contacted potential witnesses in the case. He stayed overnight at River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa on 23 occasions without court authorization while on pretrial release.
Taylor was represented by attorney Kenneth L. Osborne of Fayetteville. Osborne told Arkansas Business Friday that he was reluctant to comment on the case because Taylor is in a 14-day period to decide whether to appeal.