Wednesday, February 7, 2018
A New York surgeon who practiced at hospitals in Brooklyn and Long Island was sentenced today to 156 months in prison for his role in a scheme that involved the submission of millions of dollars in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Scott Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations made the announcement.
Syed Imran Ahmed M.D., 51, of Glen Head, New York, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the Eastern District of New York, who also ordered Ahmed to pay $7,266,008.95 in restitution, to forfeit $7,266,008.95, and to pay a $20,000 fine. Ahmed was convicted in July 2016 after an 11-day trial of one count of health care fraud, three counts of making false statements related to health care matters and two counts of money laundering.
“Medicare is a crucial program for many of the most vulnerable people in our society – American seniors and those with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “In this case, Syed Ahmed put his own greed ahead of the trust we put in our medical professionals, draining over $7 million in precious funding from our Medicare program. His conviction and the sentence imposed in this case demonstrate the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to protecting public funds and the integrity of our health care system.”
“Dr. Syed Ahmed treated Medicare like a personal piggy bank, stealing over $7.2 million by making fraudulent claims for medical procedures he never performed,” stated U.S. Attorney Donoghue. “Dr. Ahmed will now pay the price for violating the trust that Medicare places in doctors. His 13-year prison sentence and the heavy payments imposed should send a powerful message of deterrence to other medical professionals who would seek to defraud vital taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare for personal enrichment. This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will remain vigilant in rooting out health care fraud.”
“Health care fraud is often billed as a victimless crime, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “Someone is always left to foot the bill. Insurers, the insured, and others are the ones who pay the price. Those who employ these schemes will most certainly be brought to justice, as we’ve proven here today.”
“The fraud scheme that Dr. Ahmed engaged in was motivated by pure greed,” said Special Agent in Charge Lampert. “HHS OIG and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue all those who seek to unlawfully enrich themselves by victimizing participants of the Medicare program.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Ahmed, a surgeon who practiced at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, and Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, New York, billed the Medicare program for incision-and-drainage and wound debridement procedures that he did not perform. Ahmed wrote out lists of phony surgeries and sent the lists to his billing company in Michigan with instructions that they be billed to Medicare. Ahmed also directed that the surgeries be billed as though they had taken place in an operating room so as to increase the payout for the fraudulent scheme, the evidence showed.
The evidence introduced at trial showed that Medicare paid over $7 million to Ahmed for fraudulent claims.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which 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 New York. Trial Attorney Debra Jaroslawicz of the Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Turner Buford, formerly a Fraud Section trial attorney, and Senior Litigation Counsel Patricia Notopoulos of the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.