Three People Convicted for Roles in $15 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
On Wednesday, April 30th, a federal jury in Detroit convicted three suspects for their roles in a $15 million Medicare fraud scheme.
The three defendants convicted were a physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, and an unlicensed doctor, who reportedly ran a series of home health care companies that used a kickback scheme to defraud Medicare.
Shahzad Mirza, 43, a physical therapist; Jigar Patel, 30, a physical therapy assistant; and Srinivas Reddy, 38, a foreign medical school graduate without a license to practice medicine, were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Between July 2008 through September 2011 at Detroit area companies Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC (Physicians Choice), Quantum Home Care Inc. (Quantum), First Care Home Health Care LLC (First Care), Moonlite Home Care Inc. (Moonlite) and Phoenix Visiting Physicians, the three suspects submitted false claims to Medicare, thereby defrauding the Medicare program.
Medicare fraud often involves violations of the False Claims Act by overbilling Medicare, or billing for services that were never provided.
Mirza and Patel were, additionally, each found guilty of two counts of health care fraud for submitting false claims to Medicare for home health services. Reddy was found guilty of three counts of health care fraud for submitting false claims to Medicare for home health services and physician home visits. Patel was also found guilty on one count of money laundering through his staffing company, MI Healthcare Staffing.
Reportedly, the home healthcare companies paid kickbacks to recruiters, who in turn paid Medicare beneficiaries in cash, and gave them access to narcotics prescriptions and reinforced drug-seeking behavior. They billed Medicare for services that were not offered, and Medicare also paid for narcotics prescriptions that were medically unnecessary.
Sentencing for the three Medicare fraud defendants has not been scheduled yet.
Whistleblower Protections and Medicare Fraud Claims
“Qui Tam” are the first words of a Latin clause referring to the plaintiff as “one who sues as much for the state as for himself or herself.”
It is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act that allows a private citizen to file a suit, in the name of the U.S. Government, charging fraud by government contractors and other entities that receive or use government funds. Bolstered by amendments passed by Congress in 1986, the law has armed private citizens who have independent and direct knowledge of fraud, whether financial institution fraud or Medicare fraud, with a weapon to prosecute government contractors and others who are defrauding the Government.
Common whistle blower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud against state or federal government
Qui tam lawsuits have been, and continue to be, a very effective and successful tool in combating government procurement and program fraud.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Medicare Fraud Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, from tax evasion to Medicare fraud, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a qui tam may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.