Twenty-Two Detroit-Area Residents Charged in Nationwide Medicare Fraud Strike Force Takedown

May 3, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 2, 2012 released the following:

Total of 107 Defendants Charged in Seven Cities for Approximately $452 Million in False Billing

DETROIT—Twenty-two Detroit-area residents were charged today for their roles in psychotherapy, home health care, and infusion therapy schemes to submit more than $58 million in false billing to Medicare, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. Including these charges, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in Detroit have charged a total of 164 individuals in cases involving approximately $244 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare.

The charges in Detroit are part of a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven cities that led to charges against 107 individuals for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $452 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare. This takedown involved the highest amount of false Medicare billing in a single takedown in strike force history.

“The results we are announcing today are at the heart of an administration-wide commitment to protecting American taxpayers from health care fraud, which can drive up costs and threaten the strength and integrity of our health care system,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are determined to bring to justice those who violate our laws and defraud the Medicare program for personal gain. As today’s takedown reflects, our ongoing fight against health care fraud has never been more coordinated and effective.”

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade stated, “A disturbing new trend we are seeing is the exploitation of adults in foster care. Providers bill Medicare for home health and psychotherapy services for disabled adults that are unnecessary or not provided.”

“Those who seek to steal from Medicare and exploit the system will be vigorously pursued and brought to justice,” stated Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division Andrew G. Arena. “These arrests are the result of a tremendous amount of hard work by FBI and HHS-OIG agents.”

“Today’s indictments and arrests in the areas of home health care, psychotherapy, or infusion therapy fraud demonstrate that HHS-OIG agents will untangle even the most complex fraud schemes and hold those responsible accountable for their criminal actions,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General for the Chicago Region, which includes Detroit. “Through collaboration with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG will bring to justice those who waste Medicare’s limited resources and prevent the most vulnerable members of our society from receiving vital health care services.”

Court documents unsealed today in the Eastern District of Michigan charge defendants including owners and operators of companies, social workers, office employees, and patient recruiters with submitting fraudulent claims for services that were never rendered. Eighteen of the defendants were either arrested this morning or will be self surrendering this week and four defendants remain at large. In addition, law enforcement agents today executed search warrants at nine locations and seizure warrants of 14 bank accounts related to the alleged fraud schemes. The following charges were unsealed:

United States v. Rahman, et al.

Five individuals were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $13.8 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for home health care services. One of the defendants was also charged with conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks to refer Medicare beneficiaries for the fraudulent services. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by four home health agencies operating in Livonia, Michigan: Physicians Choice Home Health Care, LLC; First Care Home Health Care, LLC; Quantum Home Care, Inc.; and Moonlite Home Care, Inc.

The defendants charged in the superseding indictment are: Bilal Akbar, 49, formerly of Canton, Michigan; Joann Terrell, 49, of Detroit; Madhur Thawani, 27, of Auburn Hills, Michigan; Shahzad Mirza, 41, of Canton, Michigan; and Ankit Patel, 27, of Plymouth, Michigan.

United States v. Mehmood, et al.

Two individuals were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $33 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for home health care services, as well as conspiracy to pay or receive illegal kickbacks. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by four home health agencies operating in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Detroit, Michigan: Access Care Home Care, Inc.; Patient Care Home Care, Inc.; Hands On Healing Home Care, Inc.; All State Home Care, Inc.

The defendants charged in the superseding indictment are: Badar Ahmadani, 45, of Ypsilanti Michigan and Falusic Ashford, 47 of Detroit, Michigan.

United States v. Sharma, et al.

Four individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $23 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for home health care services and psychotherapy services. Three of the individuals were also charged with conspiring to pay or receive illegal kickbacks. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by three home health agencies and an adult day care center. The home health agencies operating in Madison Heights, Michigan and Sterling Heights, Michigan are: Reliance Home Care, LLC; First Choice Home Health Care Services, Inc.; and Associates in Home Care, Inc. The adult day care center operating in Detroit Michigan is Haven Adult Day Care Center, LLC.

The defendants charged in the indictment are: Sachin Sharma, 36, of Shelby Township, Michigan; Dana Sharma, 29, of Shelby Township, Michigan; Abdul Malik Al- Jumail, aka “Tony,” 52, of Brownstown, Michigan; and Felicar Williams, 49, of Dearborn, Michigan.

United States v. English, et al.

Six individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $2.8 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for psychotherapy services. Two of the defendants are also charged with additional health care fraud counts. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by an adult day care center operating in Flint, Michigan: New Century Adult Day Program Services, LLC.

The defendants charged in the indictment are: Glenn English, 52, of Detroit, Michigan; Gregory Lawrence, 54, of Detroit, Michigan; Richard Hogan, 65, of Flint, Michigan; Donald Berry, 65, of Detroit, Michigan; Felicia Marsh, 44, of Detroit, Michigan; and Jamie Moreau, 34, of Davison, Michigan.

United States v. Thompson, et al.

Two individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and additional counts of health care fraud for their roles in a $20 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for psychotherapy services. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by two psychotherapy clinics and an adult day care center operating in Detroit, Michigan: TGW Medical, Inc.; Caldwell Thompson Manor, Inc. And P&C Adult Day Care Center, LLC.

The defendants charged in the indictment are: Louisa Thompson, 62, of Detroit, Michigan and Checarol Robinson, 41, of New Baltimore, Michigan.

United States v. Edwards, et al.

Two individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and additional counts of health care fraud for their roles in a $3 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for psychotherapy services. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by a psychotherapy clinic operating in Southfield, Michigan and Detroit, Michigan: Funderburg Clinical and Community Services, Inc.

The defendants charged in the indictment are: Sanyani Edwards, 32, of Taylor, Michigan and Angel Williams, 27, of Southfield, Michigan.

United States v. Raymond Arias

Raymond Arias, 40, of Troy, Michigan was charged in an indictment with six counts of health care fraud for his leading role in a $12.5 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for infusion therapy treatments. The fraudulent claims were submitted by Arias’s clinic Elite Wellness, LLC, operating in Westland, Michigan.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.

Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The cases announced today are being prosecuted and investigated by Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams comprised of attorneys from the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Southern District of Texas, the Central District of California, the Middle District of Louisiana; the Northern District of Illinois, and the Middle District of Florida; and agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

The cases in the Eastern District of Michigan are being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Gejaa T. Gobena and Trial Attorneys Catherine K. Dick and William G. Kanellis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Philip Ross of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

An indictment is merely a charge and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Operation of Two Home Health Care Businesses Indicted in Alleged $20 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

June 30, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois on June 29, 2011 released the following press release:

“CHICAGO — A Chicago man who operated two home health care businesses, one of which was among the state’s largest recipients of Medicare payments, was indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly swindling Medicare of at least $20 million over five years, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendant, Jacinto “John” Gabriel, Jr., allegedly schemed with others to submit millions of dollars in false claims for reimbursement of home healthcare services purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries, which allegedly were never provided, were not medically necessary, or were inflated in price so that he and others could profit from the fraudulently-obtained funds. Gabriel and his co-schemers allegedly used the proceeds for various purposes, including: using more than $5.5 million in cash to maintain lavish lifestyles, including gambling at casinos in the Chicago area and Las Vegas, and to buy automobiles, jewelry and real estate in the United States and the Philippines; to perpetuate the businesses by paying his employees and providing them with gifts, and to bribe physicians and pay kickbacks to others in exchange for patient referrals.

Gabriel, 43, who had no formal medical training, medical degrees, nor licenses to practice as a health care professional, was charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of health care fraud and 11 counts of money laundering in a 15-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $20 million. He has remained free on bond since he was arrested on preliminary charges in February and he will be arraigned on a date still be determined in U.S. District Court.

“The fraud alleged in this indictment illustrates complete disregard of the needs and interests of Medicare patients,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “The OIG is determined to aggressively investigate Medicare fraud and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who perpetrate these types of crimes are held accountable.”

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Pugh announced the charges together with Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General also participated in the investigation, which is continuing. The investigation is being conducted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which expanded to Chicago earlier this year, and is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative between the Justice Department and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.

According to the indictment, Gabriel did not identify himself as an owner, but in fact exercised ownership and control over Perpetual Home Health, Inc., based in Oak Forest, and Legacy Home Healthcare Services, which was located on the city’s north side. Both firms have ceased operating and no longer receive Medicare payments. Between May 2006 and January 2011, Perpetual submitted more than 14,000 Medicare claims seeking reimbursement for services allegedly provided to beneficiaries. As a result of those claims, Perpetual received more than $38 million in Medicare payments, making it one of the largest, if not the largest, recipients of Medicare payments for home health services in Illinois. Between 2008 and January 2011, Legacy submitted more than 2,000 claims for Medicare reimbursement and received more than $5 million.

As part of the fraud scheme, Gabriel and his co-schemers allegedly obtained personal information of Medicare beneficiaries to bill Medicare without the beneficiaries’ knowledge or consent; created false patient files to support fraudulent Medicare claims and submitted false claims based on those records; used Medicare proceeds to pay himself, co-schemers, employees, and others who assisted him in carrying out the scheme; and concealed the fraud proceeds by directing Perpetual and Legacy to issue checks payable to fictitious entities, his friends and associates.

Among other details, the indictment alleges that Gabriel authorized Perpetual and Legacy to pay various amounts, ranging between $200 and $800, to employees and others for each patient they referred and enrolled in home healthcare services. He and others also cold-called Medicare beneficiaries to try to persuade them to enroll with Perpetual and Legacy.

As part of allegedly falsifying patient records, Gabriel directed Perpetual and Legacy personnel to systematically complete standard forms by listing the same false diagnoses, including arthropathy (joint disease) and hypertension, which enabled them to claim a higher level of Medicare reimbursement, according to the charges.

In addition to the fraud counts, the money laundering charges allege that between last October and December, Gabriel cashed 11 checks in amounts under $10,000 — usually $9,000 and all involving fraud proceeds — to avoid federal currency transaction reporting requirements.

Each count of wire fraud and money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while each count of health care fraud carries a maximum 10-year prison term. Each wire fraud and healthcare fraud count carries a maximum fine of $250,000, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. Each money laundering count carries a maximum fine of $500,000. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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