“I am not a criminal,” said Houser, who was convicted last month on one count of health care fraud, eight counts of willful failure to pay payroll taxes and two counts of failure to file income tax returns.
His comments came Thursday during a hearing to determine if he should be allowed to represent himself in requesting a new trial.
“Judge, you got sold a bill of goods is I what I think,” Houser said to federal Judge Harold L. Murphy, of Rome.
Murphy said that Houser is not competent to represent himself prior to his June 29 sentencing and ordered federal public defenders William Morrison and Michael Trost to continue to defend him.
“I am well aware of the disaster your civil case was that you brought on yourself,” Murphy said, “It is in your best interest not to have your lawyers dismissed.”
Houser, who is an attorney, represented himself in Floyd County Superior Court when he was sued in 2010 by the family of a patient who died in one of his nursing homes.
Loretta Terhune, whose father died while he was a patient at the Moran Lake facility run by Houser’s company, Forum Healthcare Group, was awarded $37 million by a jury after a trial where Houser was led away in handcuffs after Judge Bryant Durham found him in contempt of court for not following court procedures.
Houser said Morrison and Trost are excellent attorneys but they were busy, and he alleged that issues important to him were not adequately addressed.
“I am not a liar,” Houser said. “I did not take money. I put in more money than I took out.”
When asked by Murphy if he had ever handled a criminal case, Houser replied, “I’ve never really handled any case. I am a good writer and lawyers I work with said I can write very good briefs.”
“Didn’t the judge put you in jail for contempt?” Murphy asked Houser, referring to his civil trial.
“I was stifled,” Houser said. “I wasn’t able to put on any evidence at all.”
When asked by Murphy what he hoped for when filing a motion for a new trial, Houser said, “I am hoping you will read what it says and say, ‘This man did not get a fair trial, so let’s give him a new trial.’”
Houser went on to say he operated the three nursing homes — two in Rome and one in Brunswick — fairly and that the nursing home surveys proved it.
He accused the U.S. Attorney’s office of prosecutorial misconduct, saying he felt like prosecutors thought, “‘We are the mighty Department of Justice and we should be able to say what you did was worthless.’ But I did what I was supposed to do.”
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