Last of Five Defendants Pleads Guilty in Multimillion-Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme involving Detroit-Area Home Health Companies
Late last month, the last of five defendants pleaded guilty for his role in a $33 million Medicare fraud case involving Detroit-area home health care and hospice companies. Four other defendants have pleaded guilty since March 15, 2016. Spokesmen from several agencies including the FBI, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and others made the announcement last month. The final defendant, Muhammad Tariq, an owner of several health care and hospice facilities in Detroit, pleaded guilty before a U.S. District Judge to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Earlier in March, Waseem Alam and Hatem Ataya – two physicians involved in the scheme – pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox on the same charges. Alam also pleaded guilty to an additional count of structuring. All five defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in July of this year.
Tahir, Javed and Tariq admitted to paying kickbacks, bribes and other inducements to Alam, Ataya and other physicians, marketers and recruiters for referrals to hospice and home care companies the men owned. Moreover, Tahir, Javed and Tariq admitted to billing Medicare for services that were either medically unnecessary or that were not provided. Alam admitted to bribing his patients into accepting services from At Home Network – a company he owned – then providing unnecessary controlled substance prescriptions personally and through unlicensed individuals. His co-owner, Tariq, admitted to knowing about these activities. Alam further confessed to instructing others to falsify patient records to hide the fact that the prescriptions were unnecessary. Alam admitted to these instances of misconduct in accordance with a plea agreement.
For his part, Ataya admitted to accepting kickbacks in exchange for home health and hospice referrals and to submitting false billing for services that were neither medically necessary nor provided. Ataya was the second-highest referring physician to At Home Network and the top referring physician to At Home Hospice. This case was jointly investigated by the FBI and the HHS-OIG as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Trial Attorneys Shubhra Shivpuri, Malisa Dubal and Tom Tynan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case. If you have knowledge of qui tam Medicare fraud you are encouraged to contact the government to report such cases (www.stopmedicarefraud.gov). Qui Tam cases are a helpful tool the government utilizes when prosecuting Medicare Fraud case. If you are someone who is already involved in a case of Medicare Fraud and or are a Whistleblower you are further encouraged to contact a qui tam law firm for guidance.