Former Virginia Commonwealth University basketball team captain Lamar Taylor was sentenced Thursday to three years and one month in prison and must pay almost $1 million in restitution in a federal Medicaid fraud and tax evasion case.
Taylor, 39, of Bowie, Md., pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to defraud Medicaid and evading personal income taxes and his company’s employment taxes. He is the owner of Global Interventions LLC, an Alexandria company that provided Medicaid-contracted day treatment service.
“I have nobody to blame but myself, Your Honor,” Taylor told U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne shortly before he was sentenced.
The judge told Taylor he viewed the crime as one that victimized taxpayers and those who need assistance from programs like Medicaid. Such frauds shake public confidence in assistance programs, as well as in the confidence of lawmakers who appropriate money to fund them, Payne said.
“I regard this crime as extremely serious,” the judge said.
Taylor faced up to 15 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of three to four years. The government asked for 37 months, while Taylor asked for a term of 27 months, below the guideline sentence.
Taylor, an all-state player at John Marshall High School in Richmond, was the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s prep player of the year in 1996-97. He played for the VCU Rams from 1997 to 2001 and was the team captain for the 2000-01 season.
Authorities said his company had an agreement with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services to provide services for at-risk youths to be paid for by Medicaid, a health care program for the poor and disabled that is funded by the state and federal governments.
Taylor and undisclosed “others” submitted and caused to be submitted the false claims to a Medicaid fiscal intermediary in Henrico County. And as the owner and operator of Global, Taylor was responsible for its tax obligations and required to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes from employees’ gross pay.
In pleading guilty, Taylor admitted that between April 2014 and September 2016, he billed for hundreds of mentoring sessions with at-risk youths that did not take place, netting nearly $600,000 in fraudulently obtained Medicaid money.
He also admitted he evaded paying his personal income taxes and Global’s employment taxes from 2012 to 2015, resulting in a tax evasion liability of almost $400,000.
On Thursday, Taylor told Payne of his difficult circumstances growing up in Richmond.
“I feel like I was able to beat the odds,” he said. He said the death of his father hit him extremely hard and he began to drink excessively.
In a three-page sentencing memorandum written to the judge, Taylor’s lawyer, C. Richard Davis, said Taylor struggled with the 2013 loss of his father, who died of cancer after his release from a one-year jail term for an undisclosed offense.
“His father told Mr. Taylor that he had been diagnosed with cancer while he was in jail, but Mr. Taylor did not believe his father, thinking it was a ploy for money. When his father passed away shortly after being released, Mr. Taylor viewed the body in the funeral home,” Davis wrote.
“The shock of seeing his father’s body emaciated by cancer at the funeral home was a traumatic experience for Mr. Taylor. He turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism for his grief and guilt at not believing his father was in fact suffering from cancer,” wrote Davis, who also cited Taylor’s need to provide support for his 2-year-old son as a reason for leniency.
In asking for a 37-month sentence, Thomas A. Garnett, an assistant U.S. attorney, pointed out that the fraudulent billings to Medicaid totaled $595,645 and as a result of tax evasion, the IRS was deprived of $398,375.
Garnett stressed the importance of a prison term in such cases to deter others.
“Unfortunately, the success of the defendant’s Medicaid fraud scheme is neither unique nor exceptional — in fiscal year 2015 alone, the Government Accountability Office reports, Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse cost the American taxpayers $29.1 billion,” he wrote.