I-Team Exclusive: More Indictments Coming in Las Vegas Conspiracy Case - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter

I-Team Exclusive: More Indictments Coming in Las Vegas Conspiracy Case

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Noel Gage, Las Vegas personal injury attorney. Noel Gage, Las Vegas personal injury attorney.
Howard Awand, alleged middleman. Howard Awand, alleged middleman.

A Las Vegas personal injury attorney who was slapped with an 18-count federal indictment may not be alone for long. The U.S. Attorney's office all but spelled it out this week, strongly suggesting that additional indictments are near in a scheme that may have raked in tens of millions of dollars.

The indictment Tuesday of lawyer Noel Gage and alleged middleman Howard Awand is, in a sense, a blueprint for what's still to come. And in a way, the response from Mr. Gage is probably a blueprint for how other targets might defend themselves if and when they go to trial.

Make no mistake; more indictments are coming involving some of the biggest names in Las Vegas medicine and law. How solid is the government's case? Here's what the I-Team has learned.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre said, "The kickback payments were in excess of a million dollars, as well as in excess of $400,000 payments to physicians as well."

Myhre isn't just making a wild guess about the amounts of the alleged kickback payments to doctors from lawyers like Noel Gage. Outside the federal courthouse, Myhre was flanked by FBI and IRS agents and fellow prosecutors, the specialists who've been working on the so-called "Medical Mafia" case for more than three years.

According to well-placed sources, they have compiled a massive and finely detailed paper trail to show the business relationships between 24 legal and medical professionals, the same names that were first made public in late 2005 when grand jury subpoenas were issued, demanding financial records. At the middle of the alleged conspiracy is self-described medical fixer Howard Awand, who was first indicted back in March and was re-indicted with Noel Gage this week.

Myhre and his team have a secret weapon -- make that three weapons -- in the form of witnesses who were themselves part of the scheme, but who are now cooperating. How does the government know how much cash was paid under the table to a doctor by Noel Gage? That's because the doctor who got the money admits as much.

At least one other doctor and a prominent lawyer have also reportedly told what they know to a grand jury. The case, to put it mildly, is strong.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre said, "Doctors and lawyers colluded to inflate personal injury claims."

The indictment alleges conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, witness tampering and more. The charge that was used to put away the G-Sting political corruption defendants hovers over this case as well, depriving clients of honest services.

Prosecutors did not name the patients and clients who were allegedly ripped off, but they have more examples than they can ever use in a trial. Inflated personal injury cases are believed to be a major factor in Nevada's over-the-top insurance costs, a fact likely to surface in the trial.

Noel Gage said to the I-Team Tuesday, "Hope you will be out here when I'm cleared, too..."

Attorney Gage said in court that he is absolutely not guilty, and his attorney implied in a statement that the government is going after Gage because he's been so successful in court against insurance companies. It's a defense that has been mentioned in public forums by other potential defendants, but will it wash?

What is not revealed in the indictment is that prosecutors also have audio-taped evidence in which potential targets brag about their influence with local judges. "We own the judges," one lawyer boasts on a tape. There is no mention of any public officials in the indictment, but, as Steve Myrhe stated, the investigation is ongoing and wide-ranging.

Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp: "Any of that kickback money go to public officials?"

Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre: "I'm not prepared to comment on that at this time."

Although 23 other names have surfaced as part of the investigation, the I-Team has no idea how many others might eventually be indicted.

The I-Team asked Steve Myhre why Noel Gage was the first guy up in the batter's box. He said it's simply because they had gathered everything they need for his indictment, not because they think he is the top target. From what we've heard, they have far bigger targets in mind.

Email your comments to Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp.

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