Federal criminal law in Texas and around the country deals with fraudulent acts that cross state lines, affect interstate commerce, or target or otherwise affect specific federal programs. Common charges in federal fraud cases involve the alleged use of mail or electronic communications in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme—these are known as mail fraud and wire fraud, respectively. Certain federal statutes apply to specific types of fraudulent activities, in which case prosecutors may pursue general fraud charges and charges under a specific statute. This was the case in a recent prosecution of a doctor for wire fraud, violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Travel Act, and conspiracy to violate both of those statutes. United States v. Savino, No. 2:16-cr-00582, indictment (D.N.J., Dec. 20, 2016). In late 2017, a jury convicted the defendant on all 10 charges in the indictment.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute addresses bribery in federal health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It prohibits soliciting or receiving anything of value in exchange for referring patients to any business “for which payment may be made in whole or in part under a Federal health care program.” 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b)(1)(A). Penalties may include a fine of up to $25,000 and up to five years in prison. The statute also covers the other side of such a transaction, making it a comparable offense to “offer or pay any remuneration” for making a referral. Id. at § 1320a-7b(b)(2)(A). The Fifth Circuit has held that “inducement…to refer patients” only needs to be one purpose of the payment, instead of the sole purpose, to constitute a violation of the statute. United States v. Davis, 132 F.3d 1092, 1094 (5th Cir. 1998).
The International Travel Act of 1961, or simply the Travel Act, prohibits the use of U.S. mail, or of interstate or international travel, in furtherance of criminal offenses related to racketeering. In other words, the act of traveling itself becomes criminal if the purpose of said travel is to commit a certain other offense, and the person commits or attempts to commit that offense upon arrival. The offenses include “distribut[ing] the proceeds of any unlawful activity” and otherwise participating in “the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on, of any unlawful activity.” 18 U.S.C. §§ 1952(a)(1), (3). Penalties can include up to five years in prison, possibly not counting penalties for the underlying offense.