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Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner enters guilty plea in fraud case

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Former Georgia insurance commissioner and gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine has pleaded guilty in a federal case involving a health care fraud scheme. Oxendine told a federal judge when asked why he was in court Friday, “I’m here to plead guilty.” 

Oxendine, 61, admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and has agreed to pay $699,864 in restitution as part of a plea deal. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced on July 12. He remains free on bond until then.

Claiming his innocence, Oxendine previously attempted to have the charges against him dismissed, but was unsuccessful. His trial was scheduled to commence April 15, but no trial is necessary now that he has entered a plea.

Prosecutors allege that between 2015 and 2017, Oxendine collaborated with an Alpharetta doctor to defraud health care insurance providers by submitting fraudulent claims for unnecessary genetic and toxicology testing conducted by Texas lab company Next Health. Oxendine is accused of receiving kickbacks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, which were allegedly funneled through his former business, International Medical Research.

Additionally, Oxendine is accused of pressuring doctors at Gallups’, a chain of Atlanta-area medical clinics, to order the fraudulent lab tests during a speech in September 2015. The fraudulent claims submitted by Next Health amounted to over $2.5 million, with more than $600,000 received from insurance companies.

In a related case, the doctor who owned the clinics, Jeffrey Gallups, was sentenced to three years in prison in June 2022 for his involvement in the scheme. Next Health and its associates were also ordered to pay over $218 million in a separate civil fraud lawsuit.

Oxendine’s guilty plea comes amid other legal troubles, including accusations of campaign finance mismanagement. In May 2022, Georgia’s ethics commission settled multiple cases against him for approximately $128,000 in donor money.

This marks the second instance of a former Georgia insurance commissioner facing criminal charges in recent years, with Jim Beck currently serving a prison sentence for embezzlement.

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