Many Indian-Americans involved in Medicare fraud

Washington: A number of Indian-Americans were among 107 people charged across seven different cities for their role in a Medicare fraud involving a whopping USD 452 million, in one of the biggest busts by US authorities. Those arrested included doctors, nurses, social workers, health-care company owners in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa and Baton Rouge.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged 107 people for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately USD 452 million in false billings, the Department of Justice said in a statement. This is the highest amount of alleged false Medicare billings involved in a single takedown in the Strike Force`s 5-year history.

In an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, prosecutors accuse Hoor Naz Jafri, a naturalised US citizen from India, and Roslyn F Dogan of "a pattern of brazenly disregarding legal and administrative processes" at their Baton Rouge clinics. Jafri, faces eight counts of conspiracy and health care fraud. Dogan faces four counts. If convicted, Jafri faces up to 80 years in prison, and Dogan up to 40 years. Prosecutors want them jailed until trial.

Both defendants face forfeiture of at least USD 37.9 million. A preliminary sentencing guidelines analysis shows that the prison sentence for both defendants, based on indicted and relevant conduct, would be life. In Detroit, the FBI arrested 19 people at 10 facilities accused of USD 50 million in Medicare fraud, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Of those charged in Detroit at least 4 are Indian-Americans –Sachin Sharma, 36, Dana Sharma, 29, Madhur Thawani, 27, and Ankit Patel, 27, from Michigan. "The day of stealing from taxpayers is over," US Attorney Barbara McQuade said in announcing the Detroit charges. The FBI apprehended 59 suspects in South Florida, including the owner of two mental health businesses called Healthcare Solutions Network, The Miami Herald reports.

Those charged are accused of a range of serious offenses, including health-care fraud, conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, money laundering, and violations of the anti-kickback statutes. The scheme involved paying kickbacks to co-conspirators who unlawfully obtained Medicare beneficiary information, which was used to submit the phony claims. Earlier, FBI agents raided nine locations across Detroit and seized 14 bank accounts in connection with the fraud investigation.