FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The trial of a Lavaca man charged in a $100 million COVID-19 fraud scheme has been postponed at the request of his defense attorney.

The trial in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court for Billy Joe Taylor, 43, was set to begin on September 12, but his attorney requested additional time to prepare for trial. The unopposed motion was granted and the trial date was pushed back to February 13, 2023.

“Defendant’s counsel states in his motion that he is diligently working through discovery in this case but that he needs an additional six months to allow him sufficient time to complete his review of the discovery and to properly prepare for trial,” Judge P.K. Holmes III noted in his June 27 ruling. “The Court finds that the failure to grant a continuance would deny counsel for Defendant the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence, and that the failure to grant a continuance in this proceeding would be likely to result in a miscarriage of justice.”

Taylor is charged with 16 counts of health care 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 was medically unnecessary, not ordered by medical providers, and/or not provided as represented.

The indictment states that Taylor controlled and directed multiple diagnostic laboratories, and used those labs to submit more than $100 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare. Each of the counts is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.