Three Defendants Convicted of Conspiring to Illegally Export Controlled Technology to the Russian Military

Earlier today, after a month-long trial, Alexander Posobilov, Shavkat Abdullaev and Anastasia Diatlova were convicted of all counts, including conspiring to export, and illegally exporting, controlled microelectronics to Russia.  Posobilov was also convicted of money laundering conspiracy.  These defendants, all of whom worked at Arc Electronics Inc. (Arc), a Houston-based corporation, and eight other individuals were originally charged in October 2012.  Five members of the conspiracy, including Arc owner Alexander Fishenko, previously pleaded guilty to related charges.

The convictions were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director Randall C. Coleman of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Director Douglas Hassebrock of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement.

“Alexander Posobilov, Shavkat Abdullaev and Anastasia Diatlova evaded U.S. export laws to illegally send sophisticated microelectronics to Russia,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “By purposefully circumventing U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, the defendants jeopardized our national security.”

“These defendants were key players in a sprawling scheme to illegally export sophisticated technology to Russia,” said U.S. Attorney Capers.  “Through lies and deceit, the defendants and their co-conspirators sold over $30 million of microchips, much of which was destined for Russian military and intelligence agencies.”

“By putting a halt to this conspiracy, and stopping the flow of these dual-use components to the Russian military and intelligence services, this verdict represents a clear victory for our national security,” said Assistant Director Coleman.

“Today’s convictions send a strong message to those who willfully evade export control laws and jeopardize the national security of the United States,” said Director Hassebrock.  “This case is the result of outstanding collaborative investigative work by the Justice Department, the Commerce Department and the FBI to break up a network whose aim was to illegally ship sophisticated U.S.-origin technology to Russia.”

The evidence at trial established that between approximately October 2008 and October 2012, these defendants and their co-conspirators obtained advanced, technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and exported those high-tech goods to Russia, while carefully evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports.  The microelectronics shipped to Russia included analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers and microprocessors.  These commodities have applications, and are frequently used, in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems and detonation triggers.  Russia does not produce many of these sophisticated goods domestically.

Posobilov was the Procurement Director of Arc, Abduallev was the Shipping Manager and Diatlova was a salesperson.  To induce manufacturers and suppliers to sell them these high-tech goods, and to evade applicable export controls, the defendants and their co-conspirators often provided false end user information in connection with the purchase of the goods, concealed the fact that they were resellers and falsely classified the goods they exported on export records submitted to the Department of Commerce.  For example, Arc falsely claimed to be a traffic light manufacturer on its website.  In fact, Arc manufactured no goods and operated exclusively as an exporter.

Despite this subterfuge, the evidence established that the defendants were supplying Russian government agencies with sophisticated microelectronics.  For example, the investigation uncovered a letter sent by a specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s primary domestic intelligence agency, to an Arc customer regarding certain microchips obtained for the FSB by Arc.  The letter stated that the microchips were faulty and demanded that the defendants supply replacement parts.

Shortly before trial, Arc President Alexander Fishenko pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including acting as an agent of the Russian government without prior notification to the Attorney General, as well as conspiring to export, and illegally exporting, microelectronics to Russia, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Fishenko is currently awaiting sentencing.

When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the Eastern District of New York, defendants Posobilov, Abdullaev and Diatlova face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy conviction, and up to 20 years in prison for each violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).  Posobilov also faces up to 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Silver, Una Dean, Richard Tucker and Claire Kedeshian of the Eastern District of New York, as well as Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

New York Tax Return Preparer Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Tax Returns

A Staten Island, New York, tax return preparer and business owner pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to preparing false federal income tax returns, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

According to court documents and statements, Alabi Gbangbala, 51, was the operator of Broadfield, a tax return preparation business located in Staten Island.  For tax years 2008 and 2009, Gbangbala prepared false individual income tax returns for Broadfield clients by, among other things, falsifying self-employment business receipts and losses on Schedules C and inflating or fabricating charitable contributions and unreimbursed employee expenses on Schedule A.  Gbangbala was responsible for filing false tax returns on behalf of his clients that resulted in at least a $178,000 tax loss to the U.S. Treasury. Gbangbala also filed false personal individual income tax returns for tax years 2008 through 2010, in which he failed to report his total income for each calendar year.

Gbangbala faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for one count of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false return at his Sept. 24 sentencing.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo commended the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Christopher O’Donnell and Mark McDonald of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.  Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York for their assistance.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Army National Guard Official Pleads Guilty for Accepting $30,000 Bribe

An Army National Guard official pleaded guilty today for accepting a $30,000 bribe in exchange for steering a $3.6 million contract to a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and his consulting company.  Today’s guilty plea is the eighth in connection with an investigation into corruption within the National Guard Bureau related to the awarding of millions of dollars of Army National Guard marketing, retention and recruitment contracts.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (Army-CID) made the announcement.

Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, South Carolina, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.  Rappoccio was indicted on Sept. 25, 2014, and will be sentenced on May 22, 2015.

According to plea documents, Rappoccio, who was an active duty sergeant first class in the Army National Guard, admitted to accepting a $30,000 bribe from Timothy Bebus, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and owner of Mil-Team Consulting and Solutions LLC (Mil-Team).  In exchange, Rappoccio agreed to recommend the award of a $3.6 million contract to Mil-Team and to steer the contract to a Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certified company, chosen by Bebus, that would sub-contract the work to Mil-Team.

Rappoccio admitted that he received the $30,000 bribe in installments to conceal the payment.  Bebus gave $6,000 in cash directly to Rappoccio at a meeting in Arlington, Virginia.  The remaining $24,000 was paid in a cashier’s check in the name of Rappoccio’s wife.

Rappoccio also admitted that days after receiving the $30,000 bribe, he solicited and received airline tickets for two of his family members from Bebus.  Three months later, Rappoccio also received NFL tickets worth $1,328 from another co-conspirator.  At the time that he accepted these additional benefits, Rappoccio agreed to steer an additional $4 million contract to Bebus and his company.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from DCIS’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Army-CID’s Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alison L. Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fahey of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Seifan and Martin Coffey of the Eastern District of New York.

Five Army National Guard Officials and One Civilian Charged with Bribery

Four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials and one civilian have been charged for their alleged participation in bribery schemes related to the awarding of millions of dollars of Army National Guard marketing, retention and recruitment contracts.  Two of the retired Army National Guard officials and the civilian pleaded guilty for their roles in the schemes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (Army-CID) made the announcement.

“As captured by its motto, the Army National Guard is ‘always ready, always there’ for the American people,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Unfortunately, today’s charges expose National Guard officials who were ‘always ready’ to pocket bribes and ‘always there’ to take kickbacks.  In return, the charged officials allegedly subverted the open bidding process and illegally steered millions of taxpayer dollars to the bribe-payers through marketing and advertising contracts.  Corruption should know no place in American government, but least of all in the military that so honorably serves our country.  The Criminal Division is committed to rooting out corruption wherever we find it, including in the military, so that we can ensure that no one is putting the public’s trust up for sale.”

“These criminal charges and guilty pleas reflect our continued commitment to rooting out public corruption wherever it occurs,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “The public contracting process should be one of integrity and fairness, and these cases should send a strong message that public corruption will be vigorously prosecuted in the military as well as other areas of government.”

“This investigation has sadly reminded us that even some members of our military are willing to trade on the trust their country placed in them to line their pockets with the profits of corrupt activities,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “We and our law enforcement partners will constantly guard against and root out such corruption wherever we find it.”

Charles Sines, 56, of Stafford, Virginia, a retired colonel from the United States Army National Guard; Wesley Russell, 48, of Albany, Indiana, a retired lieutenant colonel from the Indiana Army National Guard; and Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, South Carolina, an active-duty sergeant first class from the Army National Guard are charged with conspiracy to solicit bribes and the solicitation of bribes.  Russell and Rappoccio allegedly asked for and received bribes, and Sines allegedly provided bribes.

Robert Porter, 50 of Columbia, Maryland, a retired colonel from the Army National Guard, and Timothy Bebus, 44, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and owner of Mil-Team Consulting and Solutions LLC, each pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official.  Julianne Hubbell, 45, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a civilian who partnered with her brother, Bebus, as the vice president of operations of Mil-Team, also pleaded guilty in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery.  Sentencing hearings for Bebus and Hubbell are scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015, and for Porter on Jan. 30, 2015.

“The alleged steering of large government contracts is offensive to active duty, reserve and retired members of the National Guard Bureau who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “It is also offensive to average American citizens who trust their government and its contractors to use taxpayer money wisely.  We urge anyone who has knowledge of corruption and abuse in federal government contracting to contact the FBI.”

“The Department of Defense places special trust and confidence in its service members, particularly those in positions to influence the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Craig.  “Guardsmen hold a unique position in our society, representing both their state and military service.  The alleged behavior uncovered in this investigation was a disservice to both, but in no way typical of those honorable women and men that serve in our Army and Air National Guard.  Identifying and investigating fraud and public corruption remains the highest of priorities for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  Alongside our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue allegations of fraud impacting Department of Defense resources.”

“We have highly-trained, Army CID special agents who are extremely talented and very capable of rooting out this type of corruption within our ranks,” said Army-CID Director Robey.   “People must realize, both in and out of uniform, that fraud will not be tolerated within the Army and Department of Defense, and greed cannot and will not trump duty and honor.”

As set forth in the indictments and other publicly-filed documents, the National Guard Bureau is a joint activity of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), state Army National Guard units and the Departments of the Army and Air Force.  The National Guard Bureau, located in Arlington, Virginia, oversees the distribution of federal funding provided to the Army National Guard and its state units.

The DOD provides millions of dollars of federal funds to the Army National Guard for, among other things, advertising, marketing and sponsorships in order to recruit new members.  The National Guard Bureau uses these funds to promote the Army National Guard by entering into advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts.  For example, through advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts, the National Guard was an official sponsor of Dew Tour, Warrior Dash, and American Motorcycle Association Supercross’s events, where recruiters handed out promotional items and recruited new members.  The National Guard also had a contract to sponsor Michael Jordan’s AMA Superbike team.

The National Guard Bureau can avoid a competitive bid process by awarding these federally-funded marketing contracts to Small Business Administration (SBA) certified 8(a) companies, which are minority-owned businesses.  The National Guard Bureau also provides a portion of the federal funds to the state units to allocate.

The indictments allege that Sines and Rappoccio evaded the competitive bid process by using 8(a) companies to award contracts in exchange for bribes.

According to allegations in the indictment against him, Sines founded a company, Financial Solutions, after retiring from the Army National Guard as a colonel.  Sines allegedly paid Porter, a then-active-duty colonel in the Army National Guard, a percentage of all contracts that Porter steered to Financial Solutions through 8(a) companies.  As the director of the National Guard Bureau’s Guard Strength Directorate, Porter had substantial influence over the awarding of National Guard Bureau contracts, and allegedly steered approximately $4.5 million worth of contracts to Sines and Financial Solutions.

The indictment against Russell alleges that, while on active duty as a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana Army National Guard, Russell demanded 15 percent of all profits that a private marketing company would receive from state Army National Guard units.  In return for his 15 percent cut of the profits, Russell allegedly promoted and encouraged state Army National Guard units to purchase the marketing company’s products.

The indictment against Rappoccio, an active-duty sergeant first class in the Army National Guard, alleges that Bebus and Hubbell paid Rappoccio a $30,000 bribe for steering a contract worth approximately $3.7 million to an 8(a) company chosen by Bebus.  In pleading guilty, Bebus and Hubbell admitted to paying this bribe.  In an effort to conceal the bribe payment, Bebus, Hubbell and others allegedly arranged for the payment of $6,000 in cash to Rappoccio, and the remaining $24,000 was allegedly routed from a business account controlled by Hubbell to an account controlled by Bebus and Hubbell’s brother-in-law, and then provided to Rappoccio in the form of a cashier’s check to Rappoccio’s wife.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from DCIS’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Army-CID’s Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alison L. Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fahey of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Seifan and Martin Coffey of the Eastern District of New York.

Allegations of bribery or corruption within the National Guard Bureau’s retention and recruitment contracting can be reported to the FBI’s Washington Field Office at (202) 278-2000 or the FBI’s Northern Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at (703) 686-6225.

Massive Medicare Fraud Strike Force Takedown

Medicare Fraud Strike Force Charges 90 Individuals for Approximately $260 Million in False Billing

27 Medical Professionals, Including 16 Doctors, Charged with Health Care Fraud
Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in six cities has resulted in charges against 90 individuals, including 27 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $260 million in false billings.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius were joined in the announcement by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, FBI Assistant Director Joseph Campbell, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson and Deputy Administrator and Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Program Integrity Shantanu Agrawal.

This coordinated takedown is the seventh national Medicare fraud takedown in Strike Force history.   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 almost 1,900 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for almost $6 billion.  In addition, CMS, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, has suspended enrollments of high-risk providers in five Strike force locations and has removed over 17,000 providers from the Medicare program since 2011.

The joint Department of Justice and HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing.   Almost 400 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the takedown.

“Medicare is a sacred compact with our nation’s seniors, and to protect it, we must remain aggressive in combating fraud,” said Attorney General Holder.   “This nationwide Medicare Strike Force takedown represents another important step forward in our ongoing fight to safeguard taxpayer resources and to ensure the integrity of essential health care programs.  Department of Justice will not tolerate these activities.  And we will continue working alongside the Department of Health and Human Services – as well as federal, state, and local partners – to use every appropriate tool and available resource to find, stop, and punish those who seek to take advantage of their fellow citizens.”

“The Affordable Care Act has given us additional tools to preserve Medicare and protect the tens of millions of Americans who rely on it each day,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “By expanding our authority to suspend Medicare payments and reimbursements when fraud is suspected, the law allows us to better preserve the system and save taxpayer dollars.  Today we’re sending a strong, clear message to anyone seeking to defraud Medicare: You will get caught and you will pay the price.  We will protect a sacred trust and an earned guarantee.”

The defendants charged are accused of various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes and money laundering.   The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services, including home health care, mental health services, psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment and pharmacy fraud.

According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided.  In many cases, court documents allege that patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed.  Collectively, the doctors, nurses, licensed medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged are accused of conspiring to submit approximately $260 million in fraudulent billings.

“Today, across the nation, scores of defendants were arrested for engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars in health care fraud,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “Among the defendants charged were 27 medical professionals, including 16 doctors.   The crimes charged represent the face of health care fraud today – doctors billing for services that were never rendered, supply companies providing motorized wheelchairs that were never needed, recruiters paying kickbacks to get Medicare billing numbers of patients.  The fraud was rampant, it was brazen, and it permeated every part of the Medicare system.  But law enforcement continues to strike back.  Using cutting-edge, data-driven investigative techniques, we are bringing fraudsters to justice and saving the American taxpayers billions of dollars.  Overall, since its inception, the Department of Justice’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged nearly 1,900 individuals involved in approximately $6 billion of fraud.  We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to prevent, deter, and prosecute health care fraud.”

“We all feel the effects of health care fraud,” said FBI Assistant Director Campbell.  “It leads to higher health care costs and makes it harder for seniors and those who are ill to get the care they need.  The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to preventing and prosecuting health care fraud at all levels.  But we need the public’s help.  Take the time to be aware of fraud and call law enforcement if you see anything suspicious included in the billings to your insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid or have any unusual encounters with health care providers.  We can work together to ensure your hard-earned dollars are used to care for the sick and not to line the pockets of criminals.”

“ Today’s arrests demonstrate the effectiveness of our Strike Forces in combating Medicare and Medicaid fraud,” said HHS Inspector General Levinson.  “Through seamless teamwork, our agents and law enforcement partners bring lawbreakers to justice, protect beneficiaries and recover stolen taxpayer funds.”

“ Fraud can inflict real harm on Medicare beneficiaries and CMS is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get criminals behind bars and out of the Medicare program as swiftly as possible,” said CMS Program Integrity Deputy Administrator Agrawal.  “Today’s actions represent further consequences for bad actors, many of whom CMS had already stopped paying, or even kicked out of the program. Fundamentally, this is about protecting the well-being of our beneficiaries and the investment of taxpayer dollars.”

In Miami, a total of 50 defendants were charged today and yesterday for their alleged participation in various fraud schemes involving approximately $65.5 million in false billings for home health care and mental health services, and pharmacy fraud.   In one case, two defendants were charged in connection with a $23 million pharmacy kickback and laundering scheme.   Court documents allege that the defendants solicited kickbacks from a pharmacy owner for Medicare beneficiary information, which was used to bill for drugs that were never dispensed.   The kickbacks were concealed as bi-weekly payments under a sham services contract and were laundered through shell entities owned by the defendants.

Eleven individuals were charged by the Houston Medicare Strike Force.   Five Houston-area physicians were charged with conspiring to bill Medicare for medically unnecessary home health services.   According to court documents, the defendant doctors were paid by two co-conspirators to sign off on home health care services that were not necessary and often never provided.

Eight defendants were charged in Los Angeles for their roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of approximately $32 million.   In one case, a doctor was charged for causing almost $24 million in losses to Medicare through his own fraudulent billing and referrals for durable medical equipment, including over 1,000 expensive power wheelchairs, and home health services that were not medically necessary and frequently not provided.

In Detroit, seven defendants were charged for their roles in fraud schemes involving approximately $30 million in false claims for medically unnecessary services, including home health services, psychotherapy and infusion therapy.   In one case, four individuals, including a doctor, were charged in a sophisticated $28 million fraud scheme, where the physician billed for expensive tests, physical therapy and injections that were not necessary and not provided.  Court documents allege that when the physician’s billings raised red flags, he was put on payment review by Medicare.   He was allegedly able to continue his scheme and evade detection by continuing to bill using the billing information of other Medicare providers, sometimes without their knowledge.

In Tampa, Florida, seven individuals were charged in a variety of schemes, ranging from fraudulent physical therapy billings to a scheme involving millions of dollars in physician services and tests that never occurred .  In one case, five individuals were charged for their alleged roles in a $12 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme that involved billing Medicare using names of beneficiaries from Miami-Dade County for services purportedly provided in Tampa area clinics, 280 miles away.  The defendants then allegedly laundered the proceeds through a number of transactions involving several shell entities.

In Brooklyn, New York, the Strike Force announced an indictment against Syed Imran Ahmed, M.D., in connection with his alleged $85 million scheme involving billings for surgeries that never occurred; Dr. Ahmed had been arrested last month and charged by complaint.   Dr. Ahmed has charged with health care fraud and making false statements.   In addition, the Brooklyn Strike Force charged six other individuals, including a physician and two billers who allegedly concocted a $14.4 million scheme in which they recruited elderly Medicare beneficiaries and billed Medicare for medically unnecessary vitamin infusions, diagnostic tests and physical and occupational therapy supposedly provided to these patients.

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 Eastern District of New York, 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.

A complaint or indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Long Island Doctor Arrested and Accused of Multi-million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Long Island, N.Y., doctor was arrested today on charges that he submitted millions of dollars in false billings to Medicare.
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
Dr. Syed Imran Ahmed, 49, was charged with one count of health care fraud by a criminal complaint unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.   A seizure warrant seeking millions of dollars of Ahmed’s alleged ill-gotten gains, including the contents of seven bank accounts, was also unsealed.   In addition, a civil forfeiture complaint was also filed today against Ahmed’s residence located in Muttontown, N.Y., valued at approximately $4 million.   Further, search warrants were executed earlier today at six locations in New York, Michigan and Nevada.   Ahmed’s initial appearance is scheduled this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go.
“The Medicare system entrusts doctors to provide patients with the care and services they need,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “The charges unsealed today allege that Dr. Ahmed billed millions of dollars to Medicare for surgical procedures that he did not actually perform.  These charges are yet another example of the Department of Justice’s determination to hold accountable those who abuse the trust placed in them and steal from the system for personal gain.”
“As alleged, Ahmed created phantom medical procedures to steal very real taxpayer money. The defendant sought to enrich himself and fund his lifestyle through billing Medicare for services he never performed,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.  “We are committed to protecting these taxpayer-funded programs and prosecuting those who steal from them.”
“Fraudulently billing the government defrauds every American taxpayer,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.   “We will investigate cases of graft and greed to protect important programs for those who need them.”
“For a single physician, the alleged conduct in this case is among the most serious I’ve seen in my law enforcement career,” said HHS-OIG SAC O’Donnell.  “Being a Medicare provider is a privilege, not a right.  When Dr. Ahmed allegedly billed Medicare for procedures he never performed, he violated the basic trust that taxpayers extend to healthcare providers.”
As alleged in the complaint, Ahmed engaged in a scheme to submit claims to Medicare for surgical procedures that were not in fact performed.   The complaint alleges multiple instances in which either patients told law enforcement officers that they never had the procedures that were billed, or hospital medical records did not contain any evidence that the procedures were actually performed.   From January 2011 through mid-December 2013, Medicare was billed at least $85 million for surgical procedures purportedly performed by Ahmed.
The investigation has been conducted by the FBI and HHS-OIG and 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 New York.   The case is being prosecuted  by Trial Attorney Turner Buford of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Campos and Erin Argo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 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.

Former Veterans Affairs Psychiatrist Sentenced for Medicare Fraud

A licensed psychiatrist formerly employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was sentenced today to serve 18 months in prison for falsely claiming to provide at-home services to Medicare beneficiaries.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
Dr. Mikhail L. Presman, 56, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced by Judge I. Leo Glasser in the Eastern District of New York.   Presman was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term and ordered to forfeit $1.2 million and pay restitution to Medicare.
According to court documents, from Jan. 1, 2006, through May 10, 2013, Presman submitted approximately $4 million in Medicare claims for home treatment of Medicare beneficiaries notwithstanding his full-time salaried position as a psychiatrist at the VA hospital in Brooklyn.   Presman did not provide any treatment to a substantial number of the beneficiaries he claimed to have treated.   For example, Presman submitted claims to Medicare for home medical visits at locations within New York City even though he was physically located in China at the time of these purported home visits.   Presman also submitted claims to Medicare for 55 home medical visits to beneficiaries who were hospitalized on the date of the purported visits.
The case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, with assistance from the  HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,, and brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.   The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Bryan D. Fields of the Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorney Patricia E. Notopoulos of the Eastern District of New York.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion.   In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Diagnostic Imaging Group to Pay $15.5 Million for Allegedly Submitting False Claims to Federal and State Health Care Programs

Diagnostic Imaging Group (DIG) has agreed to pay a total of $15.5 million to resolve allegations that its diagnostic testing facility falsely billed federal and state health care programs for tests that were not performed or not medically necessary and by paying kickbacks to physicians.  Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch announced the settlement today.

DIG has agreed to pay $13.65 million to the federal government and an additional total of $1.85 million to New York and New Jersey.  DIG operates a chain of diagnostic testing facilities through its subsidiary, Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Services, which is headquartered in Hicksville, N.Y.  DIG previously operated chains in New Jersey and Florida through subsidiaries Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Services of New Jersey and Signet Diagnostic Imaging Services.

“When health care providers pay kickbacks and submit false claims to Medicare, they not only deplete the Medicare Trust Fund, they undermine the integrity of the health care system,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery.  “The Justice Department will relentlessly pursue those who misuse federal health care funds for their own profit.”

“Health care providers who make decisions based on profit instead of medical need compromise patient safety and confidence,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman.  “Unnecessary tests and the payment of kickbacks also siphon precious resources from our health care system.  The settlement we’re announcing today is an appropriate response to these unacceptable practices.”

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that DIG submitted claims to Medicare, as well as the New Jersey and New York Medicaid Programs, for 3D reconstructions of CT scans that were never performed or interpreted.  Additionally, DIG allegedly bundled certain tests on its order forms so that physicians could not order other tests without ordering the additional bundled tests, which were not medically necessary.  Today’s settlement also resolves allegations that DIG paid kickbacks to physicians for the referral of diagnostic tests.  According to the government, the kickbacks were in the form of payments that DIG made to physicians ostensibly to supervise patients who underwent nuclear stress testing.  These payments allegedly exceeded fair market value and were, in fact, intended to reward physicians for their referrals.

“Patients deserve testing decisions based solely on medical need, not doctors’ pocketbooks,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “We will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to investigate vigorously allegations of fraud on federal programs like Medicare and to pursue those who seek to fraudulently deplete the Medicare Trust Fund.”

“Paying physicians for their referrals and submitting false claims to increase Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements – as was alleged in this case – simply cannot be tolerated,” said Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Daniel R. Levinson.  “Besides levying a hefty penalty, the settlement requires an independent organization to review Diagnostic Imaging Group’s claims for five years and to send reports to the government.”

The allegations resolved by today’s settlement were raised in three lawsuits filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  The Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.  The three whistleblowers, Mark Novick, M.D., Rey Solano and Richard Steinman, M.D., will receive $ 1.5 million , $ 1.07 million and $ 209,250 , respectively, as part of today’s settlement.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $19 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $13.4 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

This case was handled by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  The settlement is the culmination of an investigation conducted jointly by special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the FBI with contributions from the Railroad Retirement Board.

The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.  The three cases are captioned United States ex rel. Mark Novick, M.D. v. Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Services P.C. , Civil Action No. 09-4992 (D.N.J.), United States ex rel. Rey Solano v. Diagnostic Imaging Group et al., Civil Action No. 10-267 (D.N.J.) and United States ex rel. Richard Steinman, M.D. v. Diagnostic Imaging Group, et al., Civil Action No. 10-4161 (E.D.N.Y.).

New Jersey Doctor Who Provided Spa Services Pleads Guilty in Medicare Fraud Scheme

Dr. Chang Ho Lee, 68, of Palisades Park, N.J., pleaded guilty today to health care fraud and agreed to forfeit more than $3.4 million in fraud proceeds.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office  and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
According to court documents, Lee, who is a medical doctor, and two others recruited patients by offering free lunches and recreational classes and provided them with spa services, such as massages and facials, then falsely billed Medicare for more than $13 million using those patients’ Medicare numbers.    Lee and the others billed Medicare for physical therapy, lesion removals and other services that were neither medically necessary nor provided.    The scheme took place at three clinics: URI Medical Center and Sarang Medical PC in Flushing, N.Y., and 999 Medical Clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y.    Lee received more than $3.4 million through the submission of the fraudulent claims.
Lee is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York on June 13, 2014.    At sentencing, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and approximately $3.4 million in mandatory restitution.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and 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 New York.    The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Nicholas Acker and Trial Attorney Bryan D. Fields from 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 more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 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.

Independent Contractor in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty for His Role in Offering $54,000 in Bribes to a U.S. Government Official

Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., Akbar Ahmad Sherzai, 49, of Centreville, Va., an independent contractor for a trucking company operating in Afghanistan that was responsible for delivering fuel to U.S. Army installations, pleaded guilty to his role in offering a U.S. Army serviceman $54,000 in bribes to falsify documents to reflect the successful delivery of fuel shipments that Army records indicate were never delivered.  Sherzai faces a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch made the announcement.
“The defendant sought to use deception, corruption and greed to enrich his company at the risk of jeopardizing the U.S. Army’s supply lines in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “Attempts to corrupt American officials will not be tolerated, either at home or abroad.”  U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Special Inspector General for the Afghanistan Reconstruction, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI for their assistance in this case.
The U.S. Army regularly contracts with local Afghan trucking companies to transport U.S. military equipment, fuel, and other supplies throughout Afghanistan.  To ensure the companies fulfilled these requests, the U.S. Army used transportation movement requests (TMRs), which, when properly completed, verified that the shipments were successfully completed before approving payments to the trucking companies.
In April 2013, Sherzai approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss fuel delivery missions that had been classified by the U.S. Army as “no-shows,” meaning that the fuel had not been delivered.  Sherzai offered the serviceman a bribe to falsify the TMRs to reflect successful deliveries so that Sherzai’s company would receive payment and avoid penalties for failed fuel deliveries.  The serviceman, under the supervision of law enforcement, continued to meet with Sherzai to discuss payments for the falsification of records.  On two separate occasions, Sherzai paid the serviceman bribes in cash on American military bases in Afghanistan.  On another occasion, Sherzai arranged for the serviceman’s bribe to be transferred to the United States through a hawala, an informal money transfer system.  In total, Sherzai paid the serviceman $54,000 in cash to falsify fourteen TMRs.  Each “no show” delivery mission, absent the fraudulent TMRs, would have resulted in a fine of the company by the U.S. government of $75,000.
Sherzai was arrested on a criminal complaint on Sept. 24, 2013.  The guilty plea proceeding was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

 

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