Opening arguments begin in Outcome Health fraud trial in Chicago
Published in Business News
The former leaders of Outcome Health were greedy fraudsters, the government alleged during opening arguments in their criminal trial Monday morning, while defense attorneys described them as earnest executives who were deceived by their underlings.
The three defendants — former Outcome Health CEO Rishi Shah, president Shradha Agarwal and executive Brad Purdy — are on trial in Chicago, charged with bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.
The federal government alleges the trio participated in a $1 billion fraud scheme. Outcome placed screens and tablets in doctors’ offices and waiting rooms that ran educational content and pharmaceutical ads. But federal prosecutors allege that the three lied about how many doctors’ offices had screens and tablets running their content. The government alleges that they then used those exaggerated numbers to overcharge drug companies for advertising and inflate revenue figures used to get loans and raise money from investors.
All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Some of the counts against them carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison. The trial is expected to last as long as 14 weeks.
During opening arguments Monday morning, attorneys made it clear that much of the trial will focus on what the three knew and didn’t know about the alleged fraud.
“This trial is about ambition, greed and fraud,” said Kyle Hankey, an attorney for the government. “This trial is about lies told by ambitious, young entrepreneurs to take their company to commanding heights.”
Hankey told the jury during opening arguments that Shah, Agarwal and Purdy sold advertising inventory they didn’t have, charged pharmaceutical clients as if they had delivered the advertising in-full, lied to banks and investors and then took actions to keep clients, banks and investors from learning the truth.
Hankey told the jury they’ll see text and voice messages between the defendants as well as hear testimony from former Outcome employees.
One of those former employees, Ashik Desai, is expected to be a star witness in the trial. Desai has already pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
Much of the case will likely hinge on whether Desai was a naive, impressionable pawn in the alleged scheme or the mastermind.
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