On 7 May 2018, general practitioner Humphry Gomes was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in the Supreme Court in Hobart, after pleading guilty to defrauding Medicare of $175,266.50.
Gomes, 54, made 2349 claims for services he did not provide, over four periods between May 2011 and July 2013. He submitted some claims while he was overseas.
At the time he offended, Gomes was the owner and principal practitioner of the Wentworth Family Medical Practice in Bellerive, Tasmania.
Colleagues raised the alarm about Gomes’ false billing with the Department of Human Services. Following its investigation, police executed a search warrant at the Wentworth Practice on 31 July 2013. Charges were laid against Gomes in May 2016.
Gomes stopped practising as a GP and moved to Victoria where he worked as a courier until a leg injury forced him to give up the job.
On 7 May 2018, Humphry Gomes was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, to be released after 18 months upon entering into a recognizance of $5000 to be of good behavior for two years in relation to:
- 4 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage from the Commonwealth contrary to s134.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
Gomes was ordered to repay the money he fraudulently obtained, and the court was told he had arranged to pay back $29,982 to Medicare.
Justice Stephen Estcourt said he accepted Gomes was a “caring and compassionate doctor and deeply spiritual person, and a loving and doting father whose life fell apart when his wife left him in 2010 taking with her their only child, a daughter, aged five years”.
However he said a “substantial term of imprisonment … was the only appropriate sentence”.
“The Medicare system relies upon the honesty and integrity of medical practitioners who are entrusted with privileged access to the Medicare claims system, based on the premise that they can be trusted to submit genuine claims only. General deterrence is therefore a prominent sentencing consideration.”