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A Highlands Ranch doctor has been indicted on federal charges that he stole nearly $300,000 from three different COVID relief funds, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday afternoon.

Francis F. Joseph, 56, is facing four federal charges: one for embezzlement related to health care; a second for stealing federal money; a third for wire fraud; and a fourth for making false statements. He's alleged by federal prosecutors to have moved $118,000 from a medical clinic into his personal account. He allegedly spent that money, which came from two federal programs designed to help medical providers, on home improvements and travel.

He ran Springs Medical Associates in Colorado Springs until late January 2020; he was terminated in mid-April. According to the indictment against him, he was fired "because he misappropriated and took for himself funds that were provided to Springs Medical by various government agencies for the purpose of treating patients who were suffering from COVID-19." 

Joseph deferred questions to his attorney, Ronald Gainor. In a phone interview Thursday night, Gainor said Joseph "expressly denies all of the allegations in the indictment." Gainor said Joseph had done nothing wrong, and he said they were looking forward to trial to prove Joseph's innocence. 

After Joseph was terminated by the clinic, he allegedly applied for a $179,999 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program set up to help businesses make payroll. He applied for the money, prosecutors say, on behalf of the clinic that had terminated him; he allegedly said he was the owner of the clinic. He then moved the money into his own account, prosecutors say, and he then allegedly filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the clinic, which wasn't aware of what Joseph was doing.

As part of that alleged scheme, prosecutors say Joseph changed the account that received Medicare payments, from the clinic's to his own. He allegedly received more than $241,000 in Medicare payments that were intended for the clinic.

If he's convicted on any of the counts, he faces several years in prison. The maximum sentence for theft charges are 10 years each. The wire fraud charge brings a max penalty of 20 years, and the final charge, which relates to the bankruptcy scheme, carries a five year penalty. 

His first court appearance is set for May 25, according to the Justice Department.