A federal grand jury in the United States has indicted 26 people, including 19 Indians, for their participation in a multi-million dollar health care fraud and drug distribution scheme to facilitate the submission of false claims to Medicaid and private insurers.
The indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Detroit charged 26 individuals, including doctors and psychologists, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade announced on Wednesday.
An Indian-origin pharmacist is accused of being at the centre of the conspiracy.
The 34-count indictment alleges that 49-year old pharmacist Babubhai Patel, the beneficial owner and controller of some 26 pharmacies, concealed his ownership and control over many of the Patel Pharmacies through the use of straw owners.
The indictment alleges that Patel would offer and pay kickbacks, bribes and other inducements to physicians, in order to induce those physicians to write prescriptions for patients with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, and to direct that those prescriptions be presented to one of the Patel Pharmacies for billing.
"Today's arrests and the allegations in the indictment bring to light one of the largest diversion conspiracies ever uncovered in the state of Michigan. These individuals abused their positions of trust and endangered the lives of countless people by illegally distributing more than six million doses of opiate painkillers and depressants throughout southeast Michigan and beyond," Special Agent in Charge of Drug Enforcement Administration's Detroit Field Division Robert Corso said.
The indictment further alleges the individuals conspired to distribute controlled substances at the Patel pharmacies, in order to facilitate the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.
Patel and his associates paid physicians and podiatrists associated with the scheme, kickbacks and other inducements in exchange for the medical professionals writing prescriptions for controlled substances for their patients, and directing those patients to fill the prescriptions at a Patel Pharmacy.
Patel Pharmacies billed the Medicare programme not less than $37.7 million for medications purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries since January 2006 and not less than 20.8 million dollars for medications purportedly provided to Medicaid beneficiaries over the course of the scheme.
In addition to Patel, those named in the 34-count indictment are physician Paul Petre, pharmacists Dineshkmar Patel, Anish Bhavsar, Ashwini Sharma, Pinakeen Patel, Kartik Shah, Viral Thaker, Hiren Patel, Miteshkumar Patel, Lokeh Tayal, Narendera Cheraku and Chetan Gujarathi.
Arpitkumar Patel, Sumanray Raval, Harpreet Sachdeva, Ramesh Patel, Rana Naeem, physician Mustak Vaid, psychologist and patient recruiter Sanyani Edwards and business associate Komal Acharya have also been named in the indictment.