A federal jury convicted a physical therapist, a physical therapy assistant and an unlicensed doctor today for their involvement in a scheme to defraud Medicare of nearly $15 million. Physical therapist Shahzad Mirza, 43; physical therapy assistant Jigar Patel, 30; and 38-year-old Srinivas Reddy, foreign medical student graduate without a license to practice medicine were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the Justice Department, the three defendants engaged in the scheme between 2008 and 2011 at companies in the Detroit area, including Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC, Quantum Home Care Inc., First Care Home Health Care LLC, Moonlite Home Care Inc. and Phoenix Visiting Physicians.
Evidence presented at the trial indicated that Physicians Choice, Quantum, First Care and Moonlite all operated a fraud scheme to bill Medicare for home health care services that were never provided. The fraudulent companies would pay kickbacks to recruiters who would then pay cash to Medicare beneficiaries and promise them narcotics prescriptions.
The conspirators created Phoenix Visiting Physicians, which employed Reddy and other unlicensed individuals, to visit patients, provide them with narcotic prescriptions and obtain necessary information to fill out paperwork to refer patients for home health care services that were medically unnecessary. Patients pre-signed medical paperwork that the conspirators would fill in to indicate that medical care was provided when it wasn’t.
In addition to the conspiracy to commit health care fraud, Patel and Mirza were each found guilty of submitting false claims to Medicare in connection with home health visits, Reddy was found guilty of submitting false claims to Medicare in connection with home health visits and doctor home visits and Patel was found guilty of money laundering the proceeds of the fraud scheme into his company, MI Healthcare Staffing. Sentencing for the three defendants has not been scheduled.