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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Northville, Novi Pharmacists to be Deported After Serving Prison Time

    Northville, Novi Pharmacists to be Deported After Serving Prison Time

    Lokesh Tayal of Northville and Ashwini Sharma of Novi each were sentenced to 68 months in prison in an elaborate health care fraud scheme.

    Pharmacists from both Northville and Novi have been sentenced to 68 months in federal prison after being convicted in an elaborate scheme.

    Lokesh Tayal, 36, of Northville and Ashwini Sharma, 34, of Novi were convicted on a number of fraud and drug violations.

    Both are non-U.S. citizens who entered the United States under a visa program for certain skilled workers. Once their prison time has been served, each will be deported to India, where they have legal citizenship.

    A 50-year-old Canton pharmacist who owned and operated 26 pharmacies in the metro Detroit area, including those where Tayal and Sharma worked, received the most severe punishment.

    Babubhai "Bob" Patel was sentenced Friday to 17 years in federal prison on 26 convictions for a health care fraud conspiracy, a drug conspiracy, and related fraud and drug violations, had harsh words for the man.

    "What you have done is reprehensible," U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow said, adding that he's seen other heath care frauds in the past, but that they've all been "small scale compared to this."

    In addition to the prison sentence, Patel also was ordered to pay $17.3 million in restitution to the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs and an additional $1.5 million in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, evidence presented at a six-week jury trial showed that between 2006 and 2011, Patel's pharmacies billed Medicare and Medicaid for more than $57 million.

    At least a quarter of those billings were for drugs that were either medically unnecessary or never dispensed. Additional amounts were fraudulently billed to private insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

    The pharmacies operated on a business model that paid kickbacks to physicians in exchange for writing prescriptions for expensive medications. The affiliated doctors also would write prescriptions for controlled substances, without regard to medical necessity, which would be filled at the pharmacies and distributed to paid "patients" and patient recruiters. The expensive non-controlled medications would be billed but not dispensed.

    “Taxpayers fund Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to needy Americans,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a written statement. “It is gratifying to see courts impose strong sentences on defendants who exploit these programs for personal gain.”

    Patel is one of 26 people indicted in this scheme. Of those, 20 have either pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The remaining six are scheduled for trial in June.

    Of 12 pharmacists charged, 11 have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty, with one waiting to be tried. Of four doctors charged, two have pleaded guilty, with two waiting to be tried.

    Earlier last week, Tarnow sentenced several of the other pharmacists who were convicted at trial.

    In addition to Tayal and Sharma, Brijesh Rawal, 36, of Canton also was sentenced to 68 months in prison and will be deported to Canada once the time is served.

    "Those individuals who engaged in this health care fraud scheme stole millions of dollars over several years, from a system designed to provide health care to those in need," FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Foley III said in a written statement. "The FBI is committed to stopping these illegal acts and prosecuting these criminals."



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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

    17 years for Medicare, Medicaid fraud

    DETROIT -- A judge sentenced a Detroit-area man to 17 years in prison Friday for drug fraud worth millions, a sweeping scheme that was hatched in Indian languages and involved more than 20 pharmacies as well as pharmacists who emigrated from other countries.

    Babubhai "Bob" Patel was accused of billing insurers for expensive prescriptions that he never intended to give to customers. The government said he paid doctors to write the orders and had recruiters offer cash to poor people in exchange for their Medicare or Medicaid number.

    "What you have done is reprehensible," U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow said. Patel, 50, who controlled the pharmacies, asked the judge for mercy.

    He was also ordered to pay nearly $20 million in restitution to the government and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

    The judge said Patel helped ruin the careers of pharmacists of Indian descent who were allowed to work in the U.S. with his sponsorship. At least 10 have been convicted in the case and eventually will be deported.

    "He had the visa issue to hold over their heads. He lured them into the scheme and kept them there," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Neal said.

    Recorded phone conversations were a crucial part of the government's evidence. Most were in the Gujarati or Hindu languages. Patel, a pharmacist, has deep ties to the Indian community and was vice chairman of the Canton Hindu temple.

    The government said Patel made money by billing for expensive drugs for mental illness, such as Abilify and Seroquel.

    Doctors were paid $500 to sign stacks of blank prescriptions. When they wanted more money they would tell Patel, "Ah, my hand is getting tired," Neal said.

    Separately, recruiters driving vans offered $100 to people in homeless shelters and soup kitchens. They were shuttled for a phony checkup by a doctor who would use their Medicare or Medicaid number to write prescriptions for drugs that were sold or distributed illegally.

    "Everything about this scheme was extreme. ... He absolutely never imagined he would get caught," Neal said Friday.

    Defense attorney Robert Sirianni asked for a 10-year sentence, well below the guidelines in the case. He said Patel was a "kind, warm individual" who was generous to his community.

    The judge wasn't swayed by the portrayal, especially when put up next to Patel's crimes.

    "Doesn't it make it worse?" Tarnow asked.

    17 years for Medicare, Medicaid fraud | - Nation/World

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