Thursday, February 8, 2018
Two New Orleans, Louisiana-area psychiatrists and a third individual were charged in an indictment filed today for their alleged participation in a health care kickback scheme. The two psychiatrists were also charged for their roles in a home health care fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office and Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Field Office made the announcement.
Muhammad Kaleem Arshad, M.D., 62, of New Orleans, Louisiana, Padmini Nagaraj, M.D., 60, of Kenner, Louisiana, and Joseph A. Haynes, 61, of New Orleans, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to receive illegal health care kickbacks and three counts of receiving illegal health care kickbacks. Arshad and Nagaraj were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.
The indictment alleges that the defendants, who were affiliated with a company that provides outpatient psychiatric services, conspired with the owner of a New Orleans home health agency to take bribes in exchange for referring psychiatric patients for medically unnecessary home health services. Haynes, who worked at the company as a marketer, allegedly helped to negotiate and enforce the bribes and kickbacks for the doctors. The indictment further alleges that the New Orleans home health agency then submitted the fraudulent claims to Medicare to receive payment.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. Trial Attorney Kate Payerle of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative 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. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.