The Victorian Court of Appeal sentenced medical practitioner Hung Dien Phan of Mordialloc, Victoria to an increased term of imprisonment from three to four years for submitting fraudulent claims for services that were never provided to patients.
Between 29 December 2006 and 16 May 2012 and 11 October 2012 and 10 September 2013 Hung Dien Phan, who was a locum general practitioner, made electronic claims for 14,565 services for after hours and in-home attendances which were not provided to patients. The false claims were lodged in batches as direct-bill claims, commonly referred to as bulk-billing. By submitting each claim the offender asserted that he had rendered a personal attendance on the patients whose Medicare details he obtained from previous genuine attendances. This frequently included multiple family members and persons who had subsequently died.
During the first period of offending, Hung Dien Phan was overseas on five occasions and submitted claims for dates when he was actually overseas. During the second period of offending, the fraudulent claims submitted by Hung Dien Phan indicated that he rendered services to patients while he was still employed by Australian Locum Medical Service (‘ALMS’) when in fact, he ceased employment with ALMS on 7 October 2012. Hung Dien Phan received a benefit of $854,188.20.
Charge / sentence
Original Sentence – Supreme Court of Victoria
Hung Dien Phan pleaded guilty and was convicted on 9 October 2015 in relation to:
Two counts of dishonestly obtain property belonging to a Commonwealth entity by deception contrary to section 134.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
On 13th November 2015 the Supreme Court of Victoria, sentenced Hung Dien Phan to an aggregate 3 years’ imprisonment to be released after 16 months upon entering into a recognisance in the amount of $5000 to be of good behaviour for 20 months. A reparation order was made to Medicare for $834,188.20 and a forfeiture order was made for the laptop computer used by the offender to commit the offences.
Prosecution Appeal – Victorian Court of Appeal (Appeal by prosecution regarding manifest inadequacy of sentence after guilty plea)
On 22nd July 2016 the Victorian Court of Appeal sentenced Hung Dien Phan to an aggregate four years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years. Ancillary orders were confirmed.
“It is plain indeed that the sentencing judge gave anxious consideration to the sentence which should be imposed in this case. Nonetheless, in my respectful opinion, the sentence was so low as to be outside the range reasonably available… There not being, in my view, any reason why the residual discretion ought be exercised, I would allow the appeal” – Ashley J