Former Humboldt doctor sentenced in fraud case

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - A former Humboldt doctor was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to health care fraud. Sheran Yeates received the sentence Friday in U.S. District Court.

He pleaded guilty April 10 in an agreement with prosecutors. Yeates also faces charges of rape and sexual battery in Humboldt, where he is accused of raping a former female employee at the now-defunct Yeates Medical Center.

He is to appear on those charges Aug. 4. "Health care fraud is just a nice way of saying you stole this money from health care agencies," Judge James Todd told Yeates. "... Stealing money with a pencil is a very serious crime."

The judge sentenced Yates to 12 months and a day in prison, which makes him eligible for a sentencing break that would allow him to be released after serving a little more than 10 months.

Yeates also must repay the $116,192 he admitted taking from health care agencies by double billing for hearing loss tests.

From Jan. 1, 2003, to Dec. 31, 2004, Yeates fraudulently billed tympanometry as two separate tests for each patient when he knew he was required to bill only once for each patient for the testing of both ears, according to court documents.

In May 2004, agents simultaneously raided Yeates' four medical centers in Alamo, Dyersburg, Humboldt and Jackson.

The state Board of Medical Examiners permanently revoked Yeates' medical license last year. He agreed in his plea deal not to contest that. Yeates declined to comment after his sentencing.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)