CHICAGO (CBS) -- A federal judge Thursday sentenced Charles Dehaan to nine years in prison for fraudulently billing Medicare for house calls in which prosecutors allege the Rockford-area doctor molested his home-bound patients.
The sentence was two years shy of the maximum term sought by prosecutors, who maintained that 64-year-old doctor had for years sexually assaulted elderly, seriously ill women during visits to their homes. Dehaan also was ordered to repay $2.7 million prosecutors estimated he overbilled to Medicare.
"[Dehaan] went into these women's homes, into their living rooms . . . their bedrooms, where he would visit them," Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Paccagnini said. "He violated the very nature of the relationship between patient and doctor.
Addressing the judge, Dehaan maintained that the accusations from other patients were false.
Dehaan said he had been unable to fully address the accusations because of pending criminal charges involving four former patients, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits. Dehaan, who pleaded guilty only to two counts of fraud related to two male patients who had made no allegations of sexual assault, maintained the accusations against him are false.
"It has been extremely difficult to remain silent," Dehaan said. "I can say without hesitation that none of the accusations against me are true."
Dressed in a faded Winnebago County Jail jumpsuit, Dehaan had watched intently — and occasionally heaved a sigh — Thursday as his wife, daughter, sister and two close friends took the stand to testify as character witnesses. They described him as a deeply Christian man who for years hosted bible study groups at his house and considered his work as home-care doctor to be a spiritual calling.
As he had during a series of hearings dating back to last fall, U.S. District Judge Frederick Kapala noted Thursday that Dehaan was not being sentenced for sexual assault, but for billing Medicare for services he never performed.
Kapala noted that Dehaan faces more prison time on criminal cases now pending in Cook and Winnebago counties, where Dehaan is charged with sexual assaults cases involving a total of four former patients. Any prison time Dehaan gets for those charges would be served only after he completes his nine-year federal sentence.
Dehaan had been charged with 23 counts of fraud, including charges related to billing Medicare for appointments with clients who claim Dehaan groped them, masturbated in front of them or performed sex acts on them.
Winnebago County prosecutors, who declined to bring charges against Dehaan in at least nine cases involving Dehaan's patients that were investigated by Rockford Police detectives dating back to 2009, charged Dehaan in 2014 for assaults involving three women. The charges, which were filed months after prosecutors charged Dehaan for fraud, involve two women who had reported the assaults to Rockford police in 2010 and 2011, when the women were 69 and 70 years old.
In Cook County, prosecutors allege the doctor assaulted a bed-ridden, 60-year-old woman who suffered from social anxiety so severe that she could not leave her house. The woman, who provided a videotaped statement to prosecutors, wept as she described how Dehaan masturbated in front of her and assured her no on would believe her if she told them.
On Thursday, the woman's boyfriend testified that Dehaan been a model physician for years, until the woman injured her hip and was forced to stay in bed.
"Once [she] got bed-ridden, he changed. He'd come in and he'd want the door [to her room] shut," the man said. "I would thank him when he left, and say [she] thinks the world of you."
In court filings, Dehaan's lawyers have pointed out inconsistencies in the women's stories, and noted that many of his alleged victims — including the Des Plaines woman — only made allegations after seeing news reports about Dehaan after his license to practice medicine was suspended in 2014.
Kapala declined to fine Dehaan in addition to the $2.7 million he was to pay back to the government, noting that a pre-sentence investigation showed Dehaan was $2.6 million in debt.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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