The U.S. Department of Justice announced on September 24, 2020 that a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Dr. William Harwin (“Harwin”), founder and former President of Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute LLC (“FCS”), for conspiring to allocate medical and radiation oncology treatments for patients in Southwest Florida.
FCS faced a felony charge in April 2020 for its role in the same conspiracy in which Harwin is alleged to have participated. The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and FCS resolved that charge with a deferred prosecution agreement, under which FCS admitted to conspiring to allocate treatments for cancer patients and agreed to pay a $100 million criminal penalty. FCS also agreed to waive and refrain from enforcing any non-compete provisions with its current or former oncologists or other employees who, during the term of the deferred prosecution agreement, open or join an oncology practice in Southwest Florida.
The indictment filed against Harwin in the U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Florida charges him with participation in a criminal conspiracy with a competing oncology group in Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties in Southwest Florida. The government alleges that beginning as early as 1999 and continuing until at least 2016, Harwin and his co-conspirators entered into an illegal agreement to allocate medical oncology treatments, such as chemotherapy, to FCS, and radiation oncology treatments to a competing oncology group. The conspiracy allowed FCS and the competing oncology group to operate with minimal competition in Southwest Florida and limited valuable integrated care options and choices for cancer patients.
The charge in the indictment against Harwin carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine (for individuals). However, the maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims, if either amount is greater than $1 million.
An Assistant Attorney General with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division stated in announcing the indictment, “As the charge demonstrates, the division remains committed to holding culpable executives accountable for their crimes, especially when they impact vulnerable Americans, such as those in need of life-saving treatments. The Antitrust Division will continue to work to protect competition and integrity in the healthcare industry.”
The Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Field Office added: “It is unconscionable for a doctor to prioritize profits over patient care. The FBI will persist in exposing unscrupulous medical providers who deny the public access to a competitive healthcare marketplace.”
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