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Expert: Seniors, family members should not panic over FBI raid

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 15, 2015) -- An expert in healthcare fraud and health law says seniors living in facilities connected to an FBI raid and their families should not panic about the investigation.

Steven Pratt, a lawyer with Hall Render and a professor at IU's McKinney School of Law, said an investigation like this typically takes months if not years to complete.

Tuesday, FBI agents and other agencies raided the office and home of American Senior Communities' CEO Jim Burkhart.

"There is a lot of criminal fraud occurring and the government’s become much more aggressive in prosecuting it," Pratt said.

Pratt pointed to an announcement by the Department of Justice last week, focused on a change in policies when it comes to white-collar crime investigations. The government will crack down more on individuals, rather than entire companies. That could be why the raid focused largely on Burkhart himself.

"I think what we’re seeing here is the beginning of what we’re going to see, which is more prosecutions where they try to aggressively gather information on individuals," Pratt said.

Agents were likely looking for electronic and paper records, along with anything that could indicate wrong-doing and criminal activity.

As to why there were no arrests, Pratt said that's because it is just the beginning of the investigation. He said arrests in healthcare fraud cases are also very rare, instead such investigations typically lead to civil penalties in order to get companies to pay the government back.

Pratt said seniors living in American Senior Communities facilities and their families should not jump to conclusions and that it is highly unlikely a case like this would shut down an entire company.

"At this point we should just assume that the government believes that there were mistakes and they’re trying to gather information to determine if the mistakes were innocent mistakes or deliberate mistakes," Pratt said.

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