Legal Ethics

PI Lawyer Takes 'Honest Services' Plea; Case Once Thought 'Massive' Fizzles

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A Nevada personal injury lawyer accused of settling cases to his clients’ detriment has taken a plea, on the eve of a second trial in a federal “honest services” medical insurance fraud case once thought potentially to involve hundreds of professionals.

Attorney Noel Gage has agreed to plead guilty on unspecified terms, according to a brief Associated Press breaking news article.

He, a former medical consultant and a Las Vegas orthopedic surgeon were accused in a complex fraud case that involved alleged kickbacks, treatment-steering, inflated personal injury settlements and more favorable tort treatment for friends, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The surgeon, who pleaded out late last year and avoided prison time, reportedly admitted that he persuaded Gage, with the help of the defendant medical consultant, not to name him as a defendant in a medical malpractice suit Gage brought on behalf of a client left paralyzed after an operation, the newspaper says. Its article relies on information provided by U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden last year after the orthopedic surgeon agreed to a plea.

“This was supposed to be massive insurance fraud,” attorney Stan Hunterton of Las Vegas tells the Review-Journal, recalling talk on the street over five years ago about indictments that were claimed to be pending. “Literally, the number was hundreds of doctors and lawyers were going to go down for this.”

With Gage’s plea, a total of two participants have now admitted their guilt and the former medical consultant is the only other defendant in the case. In addition to allegations that the defendants violated controversial federal “honest services” law by failing to act in accord with the best interests of their clients, the case also involved an obstruction of justice charge against Gage.

Earlier coverage:

Las Vegas Review-Journal (2007): “LV attorney accused of being part of plot to inflate costs, settlements “

Las Vegas Sun (2008): “Mistrial declared in federal trial of lawyer Noel Gage”

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