Physician pleads guilty to writing fake prescriptions; to repay $1.6M

NATCHEZ — A Mississippi physician who wrote fake prescriptions that helped defraud Medicare of more than $5 million lost her medical license and has been ordered in Baton Rouge, La., federal court to repay the insurer $1.6 million.

Dr. Jo A. Francis, of Natchez, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She appeared in a wheelchair before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady and apologized for her crimes.

The Advocate of Baton Rouge reports sentencing guidelines called for a prison term ranging from 70 months to 87 months for Francis, but her attorneys told the judge the former physician is recovering from a stroke she suffered in May 2011.

The attorneys also said Francis suffers from diabetes and chronic renal failure.

Prosecutors told Brady that Francis cooperated with investigators.

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