The Nevada Supreme Court has been asked to temporarily suspend the law license of attorney Noel Gage, who was sentenced to probation earlier this month for obstruction of justice in a medical malpractice fraud case.
Prosecutors had accused Gage of participating in a network of Las Vegas physicians and lawyers who defrauded clients by protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits and sharing kickbacks from legal settlements.
Gage, 72, resolved his criminal case in February by pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. He entered an Alford plea, which is a type of guilty plea that allows him to maintain his innocence.
Nevada State Bar Counsel Rob Bare filed the petition seeking the temporary suspension with the high court once he received a certified copy of Gage’s conviction and the plea agreement, as well as copies of the indictment. The bar is investigating Gage.
Also charged in the case were medical consultant Howard Awand and surgeon Mark Kabins. Although all three defendants have pleaded guilty to felonies, the case did not result in a single fraud conviction. Awand and Kabins each pleaded guilty to misprision of felony, which involves a failure to report the criminal activity of others.
Kabins was sentenced to five years of probation. Awand was sentenced to four months in prison, which will run concurrently with a four-year sentence he is already serving for failing to pay $2.5 million in taxes.
Gage was licensed to practice law in Nevada in 1997. His first problems with the bar began in 2007 when he was indicted and accused of scheming with Awand "for the purpose of gaining access to a network of doctors and health care providers controlled by and working with Awand," states Bare’s petition. "This access enabled Gage to obtain clients or client referrals, inflate his clients’ personal injury claims artificially and fraudulently, and obtain false and misleading testimony from doctors in support of personal injury lawsuits."
As part of his sentence, Gage was ordered to return more than $700,000 in attorney fees to former client Melodie Simon, who was paralyzed in 2000 after surgery. Rather than sue the two surgeons involved, the lawyer sued anesthesiologist Daniel Burkhead. The malpractice case settled for $2.3 million, but prosecutors argued it was worth much more.
Gage was also sentenced to three months of house arrest and fined $25,000. Gage’s attorney, Bill Terry, reported the conviction to the state bar as required by Supreme Court rules.
The Nevada Supreme Court generally approves such requests. The bar investigation may lead to a hearing that could result in a range of sanctions against the attorney, including disbarment. Bare was not immediately available for comment.