Kiekert AG to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging Involving Auto Parts

Kiekert AG, an automotive parts manufacturer based in Heiligenhaus, Germany, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $6.1 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to rig bids of side-door latches and latch minimodules installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Kiekert participated in a conspiracy to eliminate competition by agreeing to allocate sales, rig bids and fix prices for side-door latches and latch minimodules sold to Ford Motor Company and its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere between September 2008 and May 2013.  In addition to Kiekert’s agreement to pay a $6.1 million criminal fine, the manufacturer has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

“The Antitrust Division has uncovered conspiracies involving more than 50 automotive parts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Automobile manufacturers, and the American consumers who buy their cars, are entitled to prices set by competition, not secret cartels.”

“Americans expect corporations in the United States and overseas to conduct their business honestly.  To do anything less, compromises consumer trust,” said Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of FBI’s Detroit Division.  “Today’s plea agreement of Kiekert AG, demonstrates the resolve of the FBI and the Department of Justice to protect American consumers from price fixing and bid rigging schemes that ultimately harm the U.S. economy.”

Side-door latches secure car doors to the body.  Latch minimodules include the side-door latch and all related mechanical operating components, including the electronic lock function.

According to the charges, Kiekert officials participated in meetings and communications with representatives of another major side-door latch producer, during which they agreed to allocate sales, rig bids and fix prices submitted to Ford.  To effectuate those agreements, the conspirators exchanged information on bids and price quotations for submission to Ford.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Including Kiekert, 48 companies and 65 executives have been charged in the division’s ongoing investigation and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.9 billion in criminal fines.

These charges were brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Detroit Field Office with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit.

Kiekert AG Information

Detroit-Area Neurosurgeon Admits Causing Serious Bodily Injury to Patients in $11 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area neurosurgeon pleaded guilty today in two separate criminal cases that resulted in serious bodily injury to his patients and more than $11 million in Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge David L. Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Special Agent in Charge Marlon Miller of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (ICE-HSI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

“Disregarding his Hippocratic oath to do no harm, Dr. Sabit enriched himself by performing unnecessary, invasive spinal surgeries and implanting costly and unnecessary medical devices, all at the expense of his patients’ health and welfare,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Doctors who sell their medical judgment and ethics for personal profit endanger the lives and safety of vulnerable patients who count on their advice to make life-altering decisions.  The Criminal Division of the Department of Justice will continue to prioritize the prosecution of doctors whose criminal behavior puts patients at risk.”

“This case of health care fraud is particularly egregious because Dr. Sabit caused serious bodily injury to his patients by acting out of his own greed instead of the best interests of his patients,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade.  “Not only did he steal $11 million in insurance proceeds, but he also betrayed his trust to patients by lying to them about the procedures that were medically necessary and that were actually performed.”

Aria O. Sabit, M.D., 39, of Birmingham, Michigan, entered his guilty pleas in both criminal cases at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan.  Sabit pleaded guilty to four counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, resulting in losses to Medicare, Medicaid and various private insurance companies.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2015.

According to court documents, Sabit was a licensed neurosurgeon who owned and operated the Michigan Brain and Spine Physicians Group with various locations in the Eastern District of Michigan, including Southfield, Michigan, Clinton Township, Michigan, and Dearborn, Michigan, which opened in approximately April 2011.

During his guilty plea today, Sabit admitted that he derived significant profits by convincing patients to undergo spinal fusion surgeries with instrumentation (meaning specific medical devices designed to stabilize and strengthen the spine), which he never rendered, and subsequently billing public and private healthcare benefit programs for those fraudulent services.

Sabit further admitted he operated on patients and dictated in his operative reports—that he knew would later be used to support his fraudulent insurance claims—that he had performed spinal fusion with instrumentation, which he never performed.  This invasive surgery caused serious bodily injury to the patients.  Sabit admitted that his operative reports and treatment records contained false statements about the procedures performed, and the instrumentation used in the procedures.  Sabit also admitted that, on occasion, he would implant cortical bone dowels and falsely dictate in his operative reports that he had implanted instrumentation.  Sabit, then fraudulently billed public and private health care programs for instrumentation, when in fact the implants were tissue.  Sabit admitted he failed to render services in relation to lumbar and thoracic fusion surgeries, including in certain instances, billing for implants that were not provided.

Sabit also admitted that, prior to moving to Michigan, he was a resident of Ventura, California, and a licensed neurosurgeon in California.  He admitted that in approximately February 2010, he became involved with Apex Medical Technologies LLC (Apex) while he was on the staff of a California hospital.

Apex was owned by another neurosurgeon and three non-physicians who operated Apex as a physician-owned distributorship and paid neurosurgeons lucrative illegal kickbacks tied directly to the volume and complexity of the surgeries that the surgeons performed, and the number of Apex spinal implant devices the surgeons used in their spine surgeries.

In exchange for the opportunity to invest in Apex and share in its profits, Sabit admitted that he agreed to convince his hospital to buy spinal implant devices from Apex and use a sufficient number of Apex spinal implant devices in his spine surgeries.  Sabit further admitted that he and Apex’s co-owners used Apex to operate an illegal kickback scheme.  In doing so, they concealed Sabit’s involvement in Apex from outsiders.  Sabit then required the hospitals and surgical centers where he and his fellow neurosurgeon performed surgeries to purchase spinal implant devices from Apex.

Sabit admitted that his involvement in Apex, and the financial incentives provided to him by Apex and his co-conspirators, caused him to compromise his medical judgment and cause serious bodily injury to his patients by performing medically unnecessary spine surgeries on some of the patients in whom he implanted Apex spinal implant devices.  Sabit admitted that on a few occasions, the money he made from using Apex spinal implant devices motivated him either to refer patients in for spine surgery who did not medically need surgery or refer his patients for more complex surgeries, such as multi-level spine fusions, that they did not need.

Sabit also admitted that the financial incentives provided to him by Apex and his co-conspirators caused him to “over instrument” his patients (meaning Sabit used more spinal implant devices than were medically necessary to treat his patients) in order to generate more sales revenue for Apex, which resulted in serious bodily injury to his patients.

The Michigan case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and ICE.  The California case—which was subsequently transferred to the Eastern District of Michigan—was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG.  The Michigan case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Regina R. McCullough and Philip A. Ross of the Eastern District of Michigan.  The California case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan, and is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Jonathan T. Baum and Trial Attorneys Dustin Davis and Blanca Quintero of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Sabit is also a defendant in two civil False Claims Act cases brought by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS’s 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.

Unlicensed Detroit Doctor Convicted in $4.69 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A federal jury in Detroit today convicted an unlicensed physician for his participation in a nearly $4.7 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

Wilfred Griffith, 64, of Detroit, a graduate of a foreign medical school with no medical license, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive health care kickbacks.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to evidence presented at trial, Griffith worked as an unlicensed physician at Phoenix Visiting Physicians in 2010 and 2011.  At that clinic, Griffith treated Medicare beneficiaries and used prescription pads pre-signed by Dr. Dwight Smith to prescribe medicine.

The evidence demonstrated that Griffith also referred Medicare beneficiaries to a Detroit-area home health company called Cherish Home Health Services Inc. (Cherish) in exchange for kickbacks.  In ordering the home health services, Griffith used the names and signatures of Dr. Smith and two other Detroit-area physicians to certify that the beneficiaries were homebound and needed home health services, when they did not.

Evidence showed that based on the fraudulent referrals from Griffith and others, Cherish submitted false claims to Medicare for home health services that were never provided and were not medically necessary.  Medicare beneficiaries pre-signed supporting medical paperwork that was then completed and signed by others at Cherish to falsely show that care was provided.

Between November 2009 and December 2013, Medicare paid Cherish nearly $4.7 million, which included more than $680,000 for home health services purportedly rendered to beneficiaries referred by Griffith using the names of Dr. Smith and the two other physicians.

Two other individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in this scheme.  Zia Hassan, 48, the owner of Cherish, pleaded guilty on Jan. 16, 2015, and Nathan Miller, 53, a patient recruiter who referred beneficiaries to Hassan in exchange for cash kickbacks, pleaded guilty on Aug. 4, 2014.  On May 7, 2012, Dr. Smith also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and on June 12, 2014, U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced Dr. Smith to three years in prison.

The case was investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Katharine A. Wagner and Special Trial Attorney Katie R. Fink of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Hurford of the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Michigan Physician Pleads Guilty for Role in $19 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area physician, who orchestrated the submission of fraudulent claims for physician home visits and directed fraudulent referrals for home health care by his employee physicians as part of a $19 million home health care fraud scheme, pleaded guilty today for his role in the conspiracy.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Dr. Rajesh Doshi, 59, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow of the Eastern District of Michigan to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of health care fraud.  The sentencing hearing is set for March 3, 2015.

According to his plea agreement, Dr. Doshi admitted that between October 2005 and September 2012, he conspired with others to commit health care fraud by referring Medicare beneficiaries for home health care that was not medically necessary, and then submitting false and fraudulent claims for the purported care to Medicare for reimbursement.  Dr. Doshi admitted that he submitted these false claims through Home Physicians Services (HPS), a medical practice he owned in Southfield, Michigan.  Although Dr. Doshi owned HPS, he hid his ownership because of prior state court convictions.

Specifically, Dr. Doshi admitted that he paid kickbacks to recruiters to obtain Medicare beneficiaries for HPS and home health agencies owned by co-conspirators.  Dr. Doshi and his co-conspirators then falsified medical and billing records for purported physician home visits, sometimes adding diagnoses to make it appear that the beneficiaries qualified for and required home care when they did not, and other times, “upcoding” physician home visits to higher levels of complexity than actually performed.

Dr. Doshi also admitted that he solicited and received kickbacks from home health agency owners in exchange for the referral of beneficiaries to those agencies, regardless of whether the beneficiaries qualified for or needed home health care.  He then directed HPS physicians to falsify medical documentation and certify Medicare beneficiaries as homebound even though the HPS physicians had never met the beneficiaries or the beneficiaries were not actually homebound.

Between October 2005 and September 2012, Dr. Doshi and his co-conspirators caused Medicare to pay more than $19 million based on false claims.  Three other physicians and one physician assistant have already pleaded guilty for their involvement in the health care fraud conspiracy related to the scheme at HPS.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Detroit-Area Man Arrested in Connection with Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area resident was arrested today for his role in a $2.7 million home health care fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Javed Akhtar, 47, of Brownstown, Michigan, was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with participating in a health care fraud scheme involving two home health agencies in Wayne, Michigan:  Life Choice Home Health Care LLC (Life Choice), which he owned, and Angle’s Touch Home Health Care LLC (Angle’s Touch).  Both Life Choice and Angle’s Touch purported to provide in-home health care services to Medicare beneficiaries.

According to the complaint, Akhtar served as a patient recruiter for Angle’s Touch and Life Choice, where he allegedly paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for their Medicare beneficiary information and their signatures on false medical records.  The complaint alleges that Angle’s Touch and Life Choice then billed Medicare for services purportedly provided to those beneficiaries that were not actually provided, were not medically necessary, or in instances where the claims were illegally procured through the payment of kickbacks.

The charges contained in a complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Detroit-Area Home Health Care Assistant Sentenced for Scheme to Bill Medicare Nearly $15 Million for Services Never Provided

A physical therapist assistant was sentenced today to serve 50 months in prison for his role in a $14.9 million fraud scheme, through which he and others billed Medicare for home health services that they never provided, and provided beneficiaries with prescriptions for unnecessary painkillers and other narcotics to induce them to sign false medical documents to support the fraudulent billings.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Detroit Office made the announcement.

Jigar Patel, 31, a physical therapist assistant from Madison Heights, Michigan, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Terrence G. Berg in the Eastern District of Michigan.  In addition to his prison term, Patel was ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution.

Patel, along with co-defendants Srinivas Reddy, 38, an unlicensed doctor from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Shahzad Mirza, 43, a physical therapist from Canton, Michigan, were each convicted by a federal jury on April 30, 2014, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  In addition, Mirza and Patel were each found guilty of two counts of health care fraud, and Reddy was found guilty of three counts of health care fraud.  Patel was also found guilty of one count of money laundering.  Reddy and Mirza will be sentenced at a later date.

According to evidence presented at trial, between July 2008 and September 2011, the defendants used four home health care companies – Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC, Quantum Home Care Inc., First Care Home Health Care LLC, and Moonlite Home Care Inc. – to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health care services that were never provided.  Through those companies, the defendants paid kickbacks to recruiters for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries.  In turn, the recruiters paid the beneficiaries cash and promised them access to unnecessary prescriptions for painkillers and other narcotics.  Through a fifth company, Phoenix Visiting Physicians, the defendants employed unlicensed individuals, including Reddy, to provide the beneficiaries with the promised prescriptions and to obtain the necessary information to complete the referrals for medically unnecessary home health care services.

Evidence presented at trial showed that beneficiaries signed blank medical paperwork that Patel and others then completed with false information purporting to show that care was provided, when it was not.  Patel, Mirza and others signed this paperwork, certifying that they had provided the services.  In the course of the conspiracy, Patel incorporated his own staffing company, MI Healthcare Staffing, through which he laundered proceeds of the fraud.

As a result of the defendants’ fraudulent conduct, Medicare paid nearly $15 million.

The defendants were charged in a superseding indictment on Feb. 6, 2012.  Three other individuals charged in the indictment remain fugitives.  The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Catherine K. Dick and Trial Attorneys Matthew C. Thuesen and Rohan A. Virginkar of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

FOUNDER OF DETROIT-AREA HOME HEALTH AGENCIES PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONSPIRACY

The founder of three Detroit-area home health agencies pleaded guilty today in federal court for his role in a $22 million home health care fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

Tayyab Aziz, 45, of Homer Glen, Illinois, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  His sentencing is scheduled for March 3, 2015.

According to admissions in his plea agreement, Aziz founded three Detroit-area home health care agencies, Prestige Home Health Services Inc. (Prestige), Royal Home Health Care Inc., and Platinum Home Health Services Inc. (Platinum).  Using these companies, Aziz admitted that he orchestrated a conspiracy to defraud Medicare through fraudulent billings for home health care services.

Specifically, Aziz admitted that he and his co-conspirators submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed.  They also submitted claims for services purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries who were recruited through illegal kickbacks paid to the patients and recruiters.  To conceal the fraud, Aziz admitted that he and his co-conspirators created fictitious physical therapy files to document physical therapy and other services that had not actually been provided and were not medically necessary.  Aziz also created and submitted falsified records to the Michigan Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) in order for Prestige and Platinum to remain accredited Medicare providers.

As a result of Aziz’s fraudulent conduct, Medicare paid approximately $1,915,513.  Five of six other defendants in this case have also previously pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and James P. McDonald of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Michigan Home Health Agency Owner Pleads Guilty in $22 Million Medicare Fraud Conspiracy

A former owner and manager of two Detroit-area home health care agencies has pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a $22 million Medicare fraud conspiracy.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Usman Butt, 40, of Shelby Township, Michigan, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in the Eastern District of Michigan to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and aiding or assisting in preparing a fraudulent tax return on Aug. 27, 2014, and the case was unsealed today.  Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 13, 2015.  His plea follows that of his former business partner and co-conspirator, Muhammad Aamir, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, 2014.

According to plea documents, Butt admitted that beginning in 2008 and continuing through January 2013, he conspired with others to bill Medicare for home health care services that were not actually rendered, not medically necessary, and procured through paying illegal kickbacks.

Specifically, Butt admitted that the physical therapy and skilled nursing services provided by his companies, Prestige Home Health Services Inc., based in Troy, Michigan, and Royal Home Health Care Inc., of Clawson and Troy, Michigan, were not medically necessary or even rendered.  Butt also admitted that he fabricated patient files to give the false appearance that the services were medically necessary and actually provided.

During the scheme, Butt submitted or caused the submission of false claims to Medicare, which in turn caused Medicare to pay approximately $12,607,262.  According to court records, the conspiracy resulted in the submission of fraudulent claims that caused Medicare to pay more than $22 million.  Butt also admitted that he assisted a co-conspirator in filing a false corporate tax return for Prestige, deducting illegal kickbacks as “business expenses” to save Prestige at least $321,485 in taxes due for 2009.

This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, and IRS-CI, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and James P. McDonald of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 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.

Detroit-Area Operator of Adult Day Care Center, Two Home Health Care Company Owners Convicted in $29 Million Medicare Fraud Conspiracy

A federal jury in Detroit late yesterday convicted the operator of an adult day care center and two individuals who owned and operated a network of home health care companies for their participation in a $29 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Detroit Office and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

According to evidence presented at trial, Felicar Williams, 51, of Dearborn, Michigan, operated Haven Adult Day Care Center LLC (Haven), which purported to provide adult day care services for patients suffering from mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia.  At Williams’s direction, Haven billed Medicare for sophisticated mental health services purportedly provided by other, unlicensed staff members.

Evidence at trial also established that Abdul Malik Al-Jumail, 54, and his daughter, Jamella Al-Jumail, 25, both of Brownstown, Michigan, owned and operated a series of fraudulent home health care companies, including ABC Home Care Inc., Associates in Home Care Inc., Accessible Home Care Inc., Swift Home Care LLC, and Be Well Home Care LLC.  The companies billed Medicare for home health services that were not needed or not provided.  At the instruction of both Abdul Malik Al-Jumail and Jamella Al-Jumail, employees of the home health companies fabricated patient medical records to make it appear that the services were needed and provided.

According to evidence presented at trial, Abdul Malik Al-Jumail paid kickbacks to Williams to obtain billing information about patients at Haven.  He then used the information to bill Medicare for home health care services that were never provided.

In addition, the evidence at trial showed that, on May 2, 2012, the day her father was arrested, Jamella Al-Jumail instructed an employee to retrieve falsified patient medical records from the company.  Later that day, Jamella Al-Jumail and others helped burn the false records.

Haven and the various home health care companies billed Medicare for more than $29 million in the course of the conspiracy.

The defendants were charged in a superseding indictment on May 1, 2014.  After the 12-week jury trial, Williams was found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks in relation to the sale of Medicare billing information to Abdul Malik Al-Jumail.

Abdul Malik Al-Jumail and Jamella Al-Jumail were each found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Abdul Malik Al-Jumail was also found guilty of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks.  Jamella Al-Jumail was also found guilty of destroying documents in connection with a federal investigation.

Carey Vigor, 61, a psychiatrist from Algonac, Michigan, was also charged in the indictment and was acquitted by the jury.

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.  Two other individuals charged in the indictment, Mohammed Sadiq and Philandis Thomas, are scheduled for trial in October 2014.  One individual remains a fugitive.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by HHS-OIG, FBI and IRS-CI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Hurford, Chris Cestaro and Brooke Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 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.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Detroit-Area Home Health Agency Owner Sentenced to 72 Months in Prison for His Role in $13.8 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

 

The owner of a home health agency involved in a $13.8 million Medicare fraud scheme was sentenced today to serve 72 months in prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the Detroit Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations made the announcement.
Zahir Yousafzai, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen in the Eastern District of Michigan.  In addition to his prison term, Yousafzai was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $4,131,135 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.
According to court records, in 2009, Yousafzai and his co-conspirators acquired beneficial ownership and control over two home health companies, First Care Home Health Care LLC and Moonlite Home Care Inc.  Yousafzai also assisted in the operation of two additional home health care agencies, Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC and Quantum Home Care Inc., owned by co-conspirators.
Also according to court records, Yousafzai, a physical therapist assistant, paid and directed the payment of various medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, to create fictitious patient files to document purported home health services that were never provided.
In addition, according to court records, Yousafzai paid and directed the payment of kickbacks to recruiters who obtained beneficiaries’ Medicare information that he used to submit claims for home health care that was never provided.  The beneficiaries sometimes pre-signed forms that were later falsified to indicate they received home health services, when they did not.  In other instances, the beneficiaries’ signatures were forged.    Yousafzai signed patient files falsely stating that physical therapy services were provided.
Additionally, according to court records, Yousafzai incorporated a shell company known as A-1 Nursing and Rehab Inc., through which he laundered the proceeds of the health care fraud.
Between July 2008 and September 2011, Medicare paid approximately $13.8 million in fraudulent home health claims submitted by the four home health agencies associated with Yousafzai.  Of this amount, Medicare paid more than $4 million to First Care and Moonlite, the companies that Yousafzai owned in whole or in part.
This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant Chief Catherine K. Dick and Trial Attorney Matthew C. Thuesen of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged almost 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .