ATLANTA -- Lawyers for former St. Simons Island home-health
giant Robert "Jack" Mills were back in federal court yesterday
seeking to overturn his 1996 Medicare fraud conviction.
Two members of a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel
hinted they might agree with Mills' lawyer that there was at
least one legal error in the Medicare fraud trial -- that limits
were placed on the cross-examination of the government's final
But a federal prosecutor argued if an error was made, it was
harmless and did not have significant bearing on the outcome.
Mills was the second of two Georgia home health-care titans
to wind up behind bars in consecutive years after being
convicted of Medicare fraud.
The owner of Augusta-based Healthmaster, Jeanette G.
Garrison, admitted she charged off more than $1 million worth of
personal expenses as business costs for her Medicare-reimbursed
chain. Among the excesses: an employee's honeymoon, tickets to
World Series games in Minnesota and the Democratic National
Convention in New York, and campaign contributions to leading
Garrison is serving a 33-month federal prison sentence after
pleading guilty in 1995 to 10 felony counts. Two of her
financial experts, Dennis J. Kelly and David W. Suba, fought the
charges in court and got longer terms.
Healthmaster was sold at bankruptcy auction and renamed by
the new owners -- as was its fiercest competitor, Mills'
Brunswick-based First American Health Care.
Mills and his company were convicted last year on 69 felony
counts -- later reduced to 28 counts by a federal judge -- and
ordered to pay the government $115 million from the sale of
First American, at that time the nation's largest privately
owned home-care chain. …