By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A grand jury has indicted a Colorado man for stealing more than $3.5 million from health care programs aimed at compensating injured nuclear industry workers in at least three western states, federal authorities said on Thursday.
Anthony Paul Breaux, 33, of Palisade, Colorado, was accused of money laundering and defrauding two federal programs created to provide cash and health-care benefits to government and private industry workers who have been exposed to radiation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Breaux's company, Honor-Bound Healthcare Providers, provided in-home nursing care for patients in Colorado, Oregon and Arizona who worked at nuclear weapons plants and uranium mills or mines.
According to the 49-count indictment handed up last week, between June 2010 and June 2011 Breaux filed reimbursement invoices for medical services that were either already paid out or were never performed.
The bogus documentation was submitted to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program for government workers, and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, intended for private workers, prosecutors said.
Breaux, who appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver on Thursday. allegedly used the illegal proceeds to pay car and bank loans and tax bills, the indictment said.
"Congress established compensation programs for the men and women who worked in our nuclear weapons complexes and those who worked in dangerous mines," U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a written statement.
"To steal from these funds is criminal, and the person responsible will be prosecuted vigorously."
If convicted of all the charges, Breaux faces up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Prosecutors also attached a forfeiture clause to the indictment, which allows authorities to seize any real or personal property that was purchased with the alleged ill-gotten gains.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan)