Dr. Shiva Akula convicted on all 23 counts of Medicare fraud with sentencing scheduled for February 21 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Shiva Akula who, after a trial lasting five (5) days, was convicted of all 23 counts he faced for Medicare fraud in USA v. Shiva Akula.

On Monday at approximately 3:10 p.m., the jury in the case of USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula, in which he was charged with 23 counts of Medicare fraud, retired for deliberations.

Approximately one hour and fifty minutes (1:50) later, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all 23 counts (See the Jury Verdict Form).

Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns attended the Bond Hearing    which transpired at 10:00 a.m. this morning (Tuesday, November 7, 2023).  Dr Akula is being permitted to remain at home but must wear an ankle monitor and a GPS tracking device.

In an absolute abundance of caution (actually too much caution by our own admission, but it’s our decision) of ensuring that ALL of the terms of Judge Africk’s conditions for Dr. Akula’s bond and lead-up to sentencing are adhered to, we will publish nothing further on this case until after sentencing, which is scheduled for February 21, 2024 at 2 p.m.  We will be there to attend that sentencing hearing and will obviously report upon it.

For the benefit of those who missed prior features, here they are:

Day 1:  Did USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula implode from the opening gate with first witness nurse Shauna Hull testifying she’d “never seen” Exhibit D-32?

Day 2:  Prosecution scores big on paper in USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula day 2; Will extreme minutia, unsolicited reference to “little brown man” negate the whole effort with the jury?

Day 3:  Prosecution calls three witnesses with highly questionable integrity and/or credibility in third day of USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula.

Day 4:  Dr. Akula takes stand in criminal trial and does well on direct but struggles on cross once USA gets Medicare document of claims appeals denial into the record.

There was testimony on day five in the form of one physician testifying on behalf of Dr. Akula as well as one rebuttal witness called by the prosecution (Sue May), and we may likely provide details of those testimonies and closing arguments after the February 21, 2024 sentencing at 2:00 p.m.

In the meantime, we are now going to resume our intense focus on Louisiana State Police (LSP) because we have an absolute avalanche of material which has piled up.  For those who follow this blog largely to stay abreast of LSP, we appreciate your patience because Burns very much desired to attend and report upon the Akula matter.

CLICK HERE for the day 1 minute entry by the court. 

CLICK HERE for the day 2 minute entry by the court. 

CLICK HERE for the day 3 minute entry by the court. 

CLICK HERE for the day 4 minute entry by the court. 

CLICK HERE for the day 5 minute entry and jury instructions. 

 

Dr. Akula takes stand in criminal trial and does well on direct but struggles on cross once USA gets Medicare document of claims appeals denial into the record.

Dr. Shiva Akula, whose Federal trial entailing 23 counts of alleged Medicare fraud commenced in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans on Monday, October 30, 2023.

In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns and community activist Belinda Parker-Brown provide an overview of the fourth (4th) day of the criminal trial of Dr. Shiva Akula, who faces 23 counts of alleged Medicare fraud and is on trial in the Eastern District of Louisiana:

November 2, 2023:  Burns and Parker-Brown provide overview of Day 4 of USA v. Shiva Akula.

Now, beginning at the 6:58 mark of the above video, Burns states that Akula had seen so much presented at the trial (we’re talking spreadsheet iteration after spreadsheet iteration and them being sorted six different ways from Sunday) that he felt like it’s very difficult to decipher what any provider can and cannot do.

Burns echoed his sentiments and, as we’ve stated in passing on another feature, Burns is an inactive CPA (thus loves spreadsheets) and did graduate LSU with a 4.000 GPA, and there is no way in hell that he could have been able to figure out what all these codes and spreadsheet sorting actually translate to.  With that being the case, the jury is seriously expected to try and make heads or tails of all these codes and spreadsheet iterations?

In short, all of this health care governmental billing and subsequent analysis is so mind-blowingly complex that one would practically need a PhD in this subject matter (or else pay a massive salary to have someone on staff who knows how to decipher all these complexities) just to try and operate.  It is absolutely unreal!

Nevertheless, Burns has previously reported (see Day 2 of the trial) how the prosecution presented doctor visits ad nauseam for which it alleges cannot be billed because of the fact that the patient is on hospice and that only a per diem rate is applicable.

Burns even went out of his way to confirm with three (3) other individuals attending the trial that those statements were made repeatedly in presenting the approximate 47 doctor visits on screen to which the jury was shown in excruciating detail about what date, which doctor (William Blalock), a reading of the patient’s general health status (with him being questioned as “stable” or “crisis”).  Those three individuals confirmed that the prosecution was very emphatic that doctor visits could not be billed as separate charges and that they are factored into the per diem rate approved by Medicare for providing hospice care.

As Burns said on the video, his mother was on hospice from late May of 2019 through the day of her passing to go and be with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on July 9, 2021.

Burns knew for a fact that his mom, who was on hospice that entire time (and who resided in Ollie Steele Nursing Home across the street from Burns from June 6, 2019 through approximately June 30, 2021, at which time she had to be transported to Clarity Hospice for in-patient care as the end became imminent), certainly received Medicare statements which included Medicare-approved charges for, “routine nursing home visit.”

Burns keeps as few paper records as possible, preferring to scan such documents digitally and store them to the cloud.  Well, there are certainly others, but here is a “routine doctor visit” to mom’s nursing home on November 4, 2020, which was approved and paid by Medicare, and here is another such statement containing an identical charge on March 24, 2021, which also was approved and paid by Medicare.

Now, maybe there’s some extenuating circumstance that somehow made Burns’ mom’s visits somehow differentiated from the patients Dr. Blalock was seeing but, even if so, it just further demonstrates that seemingly nobody can know just what the heck the rules are here!

Dr. Akula was point-blank asked on the witness stand if he had specific intent to defraud Medicare and inflate his own income, and he said, “Never.”

We’re going to be honest.  We believe him!

He may have experienced periods of chaos from going from paper records to electronic records and, though he didn’t have a clue it was going on, he had a number of employees who simply harbored deep personal resentment toward him for what they perceived as too low pay (which the prosecution kept grilling him on during cross) and basically violated his trust in various ways.

Those facts, however, certainly do not prove in any way that Dr. Akula set out to commit fraud and, with the prosecution’s case now over, we are prepared to go on record as stating that we do not believe that he did so.

Despite its best efforts (and they did present a very excruciatingly-detailed case along with a considerable amount of innuendo), we believe the prosecution has failed to directly tie Akula to any purposeful intent to defraud the government.  We would vote to acquit on all counts, and we predict that the jury will do the same after an estimated 4-5 hours of deliberation.

As indicated on the video above, the defense will call one expert witness on Monday, after which closing arguments will ensue.

Thereafter, Judge Africk will provide the jury with its instructions, and then the case will be submitted to the jury.

Despite our prediction of acquittal on all counts, we are nevertheless not hesitant to say that we believe that would have been the case even without Akula taking the stand.

Further, seeing Akula struggle mightily  on the claims appeal denial documentation (looking over the document for an extensive period and being evasive on a response to the question of, “Is this not a denial with the explanation of ‘the services performed were not medically necessary?'”), we believe is an abject lesson demonstrating exactly why so many defense attorneys urge their clients not to take the witness stand!

For the lawyers who read this, Akula’s lawyer, David DeVillers, did Move for a Rule 29 Judgment of Acquittal in stating, “No reasonable juror could conclude that Dr. Akula committed fraud in this matter.”

Obviously, the prosecution argued that issuing such a judgment would not be appropriate, and Judge Africk immediately denied the Motion but indicated that DeVillers could re-urge it later in this trial if he was so inclined.

We will provide an overview of Monday’s hearing soon thereafter, and as indicated on the video, it is very likely to be the last overview unless the jury extends deliberations into Tuesday.

CLICK HERE for the day 4 minute entry by the court. 

Prosecution calls three witnesses with highly questionable integrity and/or credibility in third day of USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula.

Dr. Shiva Akula, whose Federal trial entailing 23 counts of alleged Medicare fraud, commenced in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans on Monday, October 30, 2023.

When we published Segment Two of USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula yesterday (Tuesday, October 31, 2023), we indicated that prosecuting attorneys were trying to prepare the jury for upcoming witnesses who were likely to be viewed by the jury as having integrity and/or credibility issues but who would be absolutely crucial to the prosecution’s case.

They attempted to do so by having witnesses with no integrity or credibility issues whatsoever (most notably Dr. William Blalock) to, “tell us about the good side and the bad side…” of two witnesses in particular:  Kelly Anderson and Sue May.  We indicated that the prosecutors were attempting to soften the “shock value” that the jury would inevitably likely be exposed to once those two witnesses were placed on the stand today (Wednesday, November 1, 2023).

Well, it was a necessary strategy in our opinion because the concerns appeared to be quite legitimate; furthermore, there was a third such witness, Dr. Akula’s nephew, Joshua Bruce, who, in our firm opinion, the prosecution would have been better off to have left alone in Fresno, California and not have called at all.

We can only surmise that they felt a definitive need to attempt to shore up the feared jury-perception credibility and/or integrity concerns of the tandem of Anderson and May and that Bruce would provide at least an incremental advancement in that regard.

While Bruce did provide some potentially damning testimony (with one statement which corroborated testimony by a previous nurse practitioner, Ms. George) entailing Dr. Akula, the animosity held by both George and Bruce toward Akula was oftentimes palpable and barely concealed at all on the witness stand.

Furthermore, we believe Bruce provided testimony about himself which, in our opinion, came across very unfavorably.  Furthermore, in responding to questions by defense counsel on cross examination, Bruce provided testimony quite favorable to Dr. Akula, his obvious animus toward him notwithstanding.  In our opinion, he was a net negative for the prosecution team.

Now let’s view an overview of Wednesday’s court proceedings entailing USA v. Shiva Akula:

Overview of Day 3 of USA v. Shiva Akula transpiring in Federal Court in New Orleans in Judge Lance Africk’s courtroom.

Judge Africk concluded today’s proceedings by indicating, “there’s plenty more to come!”  We’ll be there to cover it (especially since no other media outlet is), and we’ll report on day four (4) of the trial most likely within 7-8 hours of it wrapping up tomorrow.

CLICK HERE for the day 3 minute entry by the court.