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Two Indian Americans plead guilty to health care fraud

A physical therapist, a money launderer and a patient recruiter trio, including two people of Indian origin, have pleaded guilty in connection with multiple health care fraud schemes in Detroit.

world Updated: Dec 12, 2009 12:19 IST

A physical therapist, a money launderer and a patient recruiter trio, including two people of Indian origin, have pleaded guilty in connection with multiple health care fraud schemes in Detroit.

The three, Baskaran Thangarasan, 37, Sandeep Aggarwal, 38, and Wayne Smith, 47, pleaded guilty this week before two district court judges in Michigan, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Friday.

Thangarasan and Smith face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Aggarwal faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, it said.

According to information contained in plea documents, Thangarasan, a licensed physical therapist, admitted that he began working around September 2003 as a contract therapist for a co-conspirator.

Thangarasan admitted that between September 2003 and May 2006, his co-conspirators submitted claims to the Medicare programmes totalling approximately $5,055,000 for files that were falsified by him.

Medicare actually paid approximately $2,325,000 on those claims. Thangarasan admitted that throughout the conspiracy, he was fully aware that Medicare was being billed for occupational therapy services he had falsely indicated he had performed.

In his plea in the same case, Aggarwal admitted to assisting co-conspirator Suresh Chand in laundering the proceeds of Chand's Medicare fraud scheme.

Chand, who pleaded guilty in September 2009 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to launder money, admitted to conspiring to submit approximately $18 million in fraudulent physical and occupational therapy claims to the Medicare programme.

Aggarwal, who admitted working at Chand's office, acknowledged that his role in the scheme was to set up sham entities at Chand's direction, with the purpose of using those entities to distribute the proceeds of the fraud to the various co-conspirators.

According to plea documents, one such entity was called Global Health Care Management Services. Aggarwal admitted in his plea that he and Chand laundered approximately $393,000 through this sham entity.

Smith pleaded guilty to an indictment that charged he transported and paid Medicare beneficiaries to attend Sacred Hope Center, a Southfield, Michigan infusion clinic.