Towson doctor withdraws plea bargain, faces jury BALTIMORE COUNTY

December 02, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A Towson doctor charged with bilking Medicaid of fees for the births of 121 babies he allegedly never delivered was allowed to withdraw from a plea bargain yesterday and now faces a jury trial.

Dr. Carter Williams, 42, an obstetrician and gynecologist formerly at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, charged the state $115,646 for babies delivered to indigent patients -- allegedly by other doctors, prosecutors said.

In one case, prosecutors charged, Dr. Williams was at medical conference in New York when one of the babies he billed for was delivered. Dr. Williams allegedly submitted bills for births attended by hospital staff physicians, who do not bill Medicaid, the attorney general's office said.

On Sept. 28, the day set for his original trial, Dr. Williams agreed to enter an Alford plea. That meant he technically did not admit guilt but did concede that the state had enough evidence to convict him of Medicaid fraud and obstruction of justice. The sentence, had it been pronounced yesterday, could have been a fine of up to $20,000, up to five years in prison and restitution.

Instead, Russell J. White, Dr. Carter's attorney, told the Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II that his client has always maintained his innocence, and only reluctantly agreed to the plea bargain Mr. White negotiated with the state.

Mr. White told Judge Turnbull that Dr. Williams thought he could retain his medical privileges at GBMC and at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson if he agreed to the Alford plea, but both hospitals denied him privileges anyway, taking away his ability to earn a living.

"He has no income, no practice," Mr. White told Judge Turnbull. The attorney said later that Dr. Williams is living with relatives in Baltimore now, unable to find work. Dr. Williams refused comment at the hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Timothy Sokas opposed the withdrawal of the plea agreement, arguing that the state had a jury and witnesses ready to go to trial on Sept. 28.

Some of the witnesses must come from as far away as Florida, he said. But Judge Turnbull said that if he denied Dr. Carter his chance to go to trial, it would probably used as the basis for an appeal later anyway. "It's a question of judicial expediency," Judge Turnbull said. "I'm on the horns of a dilemma."

By withdrawing his Alford plea, Dr. Williams will also face two criminal charges that were dropped as part of the plea agreement. One count was theft of the money, and another was a separate obstruction of justice charge.

The evidence against Dr. Carter includes information provided by his former girlfriend, who in February pleaded guilty to helping him falsify billing records.

Prosecutors allege that Dr. Williams eventually got sloppy and allegedly billed for the birth of one baby, but not the baby's twin.

The new trial date has not yet been selected.

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