Even federal prosecutors will agree that Mary Lim was a busy, busy woman at Seoul East-West Medical Center, her Garden Grove clinic.
During a two-year period ending in 2008, Lim submitted approximately 15,000--that's not a typo--fraudulent Medicare claims to the government in an effort to steal $2,085,892 from taxpayers and actually collected more than $1.4 million.
After a June Orange County jury found Lim guilty on all counts, both the U.S. Probation Office and Assistant United States Attorney Cathy J. Ostiller declared that a fair punishment for the serial thief, a Desert Hot Springs resident, would be 41-months, the low end of federal sentencing guidelines.
But James H. Kim, Lim's attorney lobbied U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton that his client cooperated with federal investigators, is "extraordinarily ashamed" of her crimes and promises never to cheat again.
(The thief told a probation officer, however, that she didn't know what she'd done wrong and had just been following someone else's orders.)
Kim also added that Lim, 50, has a first-grade son who worries he's losing his mother.
He didn't specify a term satisfactory to the defense but encouraged the judge to make it lower than 41 months.
This week, Staton showed her soft side by ignoring the government's request and handing Lim a generous 18-month prison trip.
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The defendant, a naturalized citizen who is free on bail, was ordered to pay restitution and surrender her freedom to the U.S. Bureau of Prison by noon on Dec. 2.
Ostiller, the prosecutor, received acclaim for her work in a 2006 fake billing case that forced Tenet Healthcare to pay $900 million.