WASHINGTON—A Detroit-area resident pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan for his role in managing a $13.8 million psychotherapy fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the FBI.
Jawad Ahmad, 42, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen in Detroit to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. At his sentencing, scheduled for November 28, 2012, Ahmad faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade; Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office Robert D. Foley III; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the HHS Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
According to court documents, beginning in July 2008, two of Ahmad’s co-conspirators, Tausif Rahman and Muhammad Ahmad, acquired control over a home health care company known as Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC (Physicians Choice). From in or around January 2009 and continuing through in or around March 2010, Jawad Ahmad managed the operations of Physicians Choice.
Court documents indicate that Jawad Ahmad managed numerous aspects of the fraud at Physicians Choice, including delivering the payment of kickbacks to beneficiary recruiters who obtained Medicare beneficiaries’ information needed to bill Medicare for home health services, including physical therapy and skilled nursing, that were never rendered. Jawad Ahmad also provided information to employees of Physicians Choice to check the billing eligibility of the Medicare beneficiaries before Physicians Choice began billing them.
In exchange for kickbacks, Medicare beneficiaries pre-signed forms and visit sheets that were later falsified to indicate they received home health services they had never received. Jawad Ahmad delivered the pre-signed beneficiary paperwork to various medical professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, and physical therapy assistants to create and/or sign fictitious patient files to document purported home health services that were never rendered. From in or around January 2009 through in or around March 2010, Medicare paid more than $5 million for fraudulent home health care claims submitted by Physicians Choice.
According to court documents, from in or around May 2010 through in or around September 2011, Jawad Ahmad managed Phoenix Visiting Physicians PLLC, a company incorporated by co-conspirator Dr. Dwight Smith. Dr. Smith signed home health care referrals for beneficiaries he had not seen or treated. Phoenix employed individuals who held themselves out to be “doctors,” but who were not, in fact, licensed in the state of Michigan to perform any medical services. The unlicensed “doctors” met and purported to examine non-homebound Medicare beneficiaries for home health care services. Jawad Ahmad drove one unlicensed “doctor” to meet and purportedly examine beneficiaries who were not, in fact, homebound.
Between 2008 and 2009, Ahmad’s co-conspirators acquired beneficial ownership and control over three additional home health care companies: First Care Home Health Care LLC, Quantum Home Care Inc., and Moonlite Home Care Inc. Each of these home health companies billed Medicare and operated in a manner the same as or similar to Physicians Choice. Each of these companies received fraudulent home health referrals from Dr. Smith through Phoenix Visiting Physicians. From in or around May 2010 through in or around September 2011, Medicare paid more than $5 million for fraudulent home health care claims submitted by Physicians Choice, First Care, Quantum, and Moonlite based on Dr. Smith’s fraudulent referrals. The four home health companies at the center of the indictment received approximately $13.8 million from Medicare in the course of the conspiracy.
Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty in this case, including Tausif Rahman and Muhammad Ahmad, who each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of money laundering, as well as Dr. Dwight Smith who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,330 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.