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 .