Three Indian medical professionals have been convicted by a federal jury for their participation in a nearly $15 million Medicare fraud scheme in the US.
Physical therapist Shahzad Mirza, 43, physical therapy assistant Jigar Patel, 30, and foreign medical school graduate without a license to practice medicine Srinivas Reddy, 38, were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with a scheme that ran from July 2008 through September 2011 at healthcare facilities in Detroit, said acting assistant attorney general David A O'Neil of the justice department's criminal division.
In addition, Mirza and Patel were each found guilty of two counts of health care fraud in connection with the submission of false claims to federal insurance programme Medicare for home health services.
Reddy was also found guilty of three counts of health care fraud for submitting false claims for physician home visits.
Patel was found guilty of one count of money laundering in connection with his laundering of the proceeds of the fraud through his company MI Healthcare Staffing.
According to evidence presented at trial, beneficiaries pre-signed medical paperwork that was provided to Patel and other physical therapist assistants to fill in with false information purporting to show that the care was provided, when it was not.
Patel, Mirza and others would sign the paperwork as though they had provided services.
In the course of the conspiracy, Patel incorporated his own staffing company, MI Healthcare Staffing, through which he laundered proceeds of the fraud from home health care companies and a shell company owned and operated by his co-conspirators.
The home healthcare companies associated with the three operated a fraudulent scheme to bill Medicare for home health care services that were never provided.
The companies paid kickbacks to recruiters who in turn paid Medicare beneficiaries cash and promised them access to narcotic prescriptions.
The conspirators created a company Phoenix Visiting Physicians, which employed unlicensed individuals, including Reddy, to visit patients and provide them with narcotic prescriptions as well as obtain the information necessary to fill out paperwork to refer them for medically unnecessary home health care services.