Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a doctor from the Philippines who went into hiding after being accused of scamming a military health program out of more than $1 million in the 1990s.
The U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Wisconsin moved to drop a fraud indictment last week against Dr. Alberto Marzan, saying the "prosecution is no longer viable" because of a lack of evidence. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb formally dismissed the case in an order made public Thursday.
Marzan was one of the longest-wanted fugitives in a federal investigation that has uncovered rampant fraud of the U.S. military's Tricare program in the Philippines. Tricare insures current and retired service members and dependents worldwide.
"We believe he was certainly a significant target and had done some pretty significant fraud," assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said of Marzan.
But Vaudreuil said the indictment was dropped after a routine review of the office's outstanding fugitive cases. He said witnesses were no longer available, including one who died, and the age and distance of the case would have made a prosecution impractical.
"Given what had happened to our testimony, we didn't believe it was a viable case to prosecute and not fair to bring Dr. Marzan back" to face charges now, he said.
Vaudreuil noted that the office had asked authorities in the Philippines to arrest Marzan and bring him to the U.S. under an extradition treaty, but that effort was not successful. He said he had no idea "how he's hiding or how he's successfully hiding" but that appears to be the case.
More than a dozen others have been convicted of defrauding the program. In the biggest case, a former healthcare company based in the Philippines was found guilty of submitting fraudulent and inflated claims to bilk the program out of $100 million.