FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for a Lavaca man who pleaded guilty to COVID-related fraud charges involving over $100 million.

Billy Joe Taylor, 43, will appear in the Western District of Arkansas federal court in Fort Smith on July 19 before Judge P.K. Holmes III. On October 27, 2022, Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of money laundering in exchange for having additional charges dropped.

He had been facing a potential sentence of up to 160 years in federal prison if found guilty of all charges, but he now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years. Taylor was charged with 16 counts of healthcare fraud and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property.

According to court documents, Taylor engaged in a scheme between February 2017 and May 2021 in connection with diagnostic laboratory testing, including urine drug testing and tests for respiratory illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic that were medically unnecessary, not ordered by medical providers, and/or not provided as represented.

According to the indictment, Taylor controlled and directed multiple diagnostic laboratories, and used those labs to submit more than $100 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The FBI, Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation investigated the case. This case was initiated in coordination with the Health Care Fraud Unit’s COVID-19 Interagency Working Group, which is chaired by the National Rapid Response Strike Force and organizes efforts to address illegal activity involving healthcare programs during the pandemic.

The court’s scheduling order instructed both sides that the deadline to submit sentencing memorandums is June 28, with any responsive motions due seven days after that.