Three men, including a father and son, were sentenced in federal court in Beckley Thursday for their part in a $10 million health care fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston sentenced Charles Eugene “Charlie” Gwinn, 63, of Hilton Head, S.C., to five months in a federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility followed by two years’ supervised release for his August guilty plea to fraudulently billing Medicare while owner of Group II Medical Supports LLC of Beckley.

Gwinn’s son, Charles E. “Eric” Gwinn, 34, of Richmond, Va., and Thomas M. Binetti, 61, of Virginia Beach, Va., who also previously pleaded guilty to fraudulently billing Medicare, were given three years’ probation and fined $1,000 each.

Founded by the elder Gwinn and Tracy Webber, Group II was a durable medical equipment company specializing in the marketing and placement of mattresses used to treat severe pressure sores.

The men’s convictions were the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, that revealed the younger Gwinn, Binetti and a third salesman, Jeffrey E. “Van” Webber, falsified documents and falsely represented facts surrounding patients’ medical eligibility to receive the mattresses.

Jeffrey Webber, who was convicted of the same offense, was sentenced last week to three years’ probation with a $1,000 fine.

Charlie Gwinn’s attorneys, Ed Garland and Don Samuel, asked Johnston to consider allowing their client to serve his sentence on home confinement, suggesting 12 months, plus probation with 500 hours of community service.

The attorneys told the judge that Gwinn, who had more than 40 supporters in the courtroom, was a “good man” who made a mistake.

Gwinn, who formerly operated other businesses in southern West Virginia, including Richwood and Beckley, suffers from Parkinson’s disease as well as a severe back problem, and Garland argued the medical treatment he would receive in prison might not be adequate and would definitely not be as personalized as it would be if he were to receive alternative sentencing.

Johnston, however, said he believed Gwinn had already received several “big breaks” in that it could be argued that Group II, which had total revenue of approximately $14 million, was built solely on fraud.

The judge spoke to the severity of health care fraud and told Gwinn, had it not been for his health problems, he would have sentenced him to 12 months in prison rather than five.

In addition to his sentence, the elder Gwinn was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 within 30 days.

Gwinn remains free on bond but must self-report when the BOP designates the medical facility where he will serve his sentence.

Tracy Webber and Group II salesman David Murphy will be sentenced for their roles in the scheme on March 2.

Group II corporately previously pleaded guilty to more than $10 million in fraudulent billing, resulting in a $2.2 million civil settlement with the United States.

— E-mail:

mjames@register-herald.com

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