JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A cancer doctor and her former billing agent pleaded guilty Friday for their parts in a multimillion-dollar health care fraud case in which prosecutors said old needles were reused, chemotherapy drugs were diluted and public and private insurance was overbilled millions.
Dr. Meera Sachdeva, who founded the Rose Cancer Center in the south Mississippi town of Summit in 2005, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Jackson to one count of health care fraud and two counts of making false statements.
Standing before the judge wearing black-framed glasses and shackles with her long black hair draped over an orange prison jumpsuit, the 50-year-old doctor looked straight ahead while her lawyer denied the most serious allegations that she diluted chemotherapy drugs.
One of her patients, 76-year-old Wayne Spring, watched intently and left the court disappointed. He told The Associated Press that he contracted two bacterial infections from the clinic and now has regular tests for HIV and hepatitis. He beat cancer, but the ordeal left him shaken.
"She liked to have killed me," Spring said. "I'm disappointed in the whole thing."
Sachdeva faces up to 20 years in prison. If convicted on all counts she could have faced up to 165 years in prison and more than $3.2 million in fines.
Spring's son, Kirk, wanted Sachdeva to admit to the more serious allegations and was disappointed most of the charges were dropped.
"She's going to pay her due. No matter what happens in here, she will pay her due one day," he said just outside the courtroom.