Friday, June 8, 2012

Home Health Agency Owner Pleads Guilty in Connection with Detroit Fraud Scheme

Detroit-area resident Muhammad “Sib” Ahmad pleaded guilty for his role in organizing a more than $13 million home health care fraud and money laundering scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Ahmad, 33, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of money laundering.

According to court documents, beginning in July 2008, Ahmad and his co-conspirators acquired ownership and control of three Detroit-area home health agencies: Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC, First Care Home Health Care LLC, and Quantum Home Care Inc. Ahmad admitted that these home health agencies billed Medicare for visits that never occurred. Between July 2008 and September 2011, Ahmad and his co-conspirators submitted or caused the submission of more than $13 million in fraudulent home health claims to the Medicare program by Physicians Choice, First Care, Quantum, and a fourth home health agency owned by co-conspirators, Moonlite Home Care Inc. Medicare paid more than $12 million to the companies that Ahmad beneficially owned in whole or in part.

Ahmad admitted that he and his co-conspirators directed the payment of non-licensed individuals who represented themselves as doctors to Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, Ahmad admitted to paying and directing various medical professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, and physical therapy assistants, to create fictitious patient files to document purported home health services that were never rendered.

Ahmad also admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid and directed 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, which were never rendered. The Medicare beneficiaries sometimes pre-signed forms and visit sheets that were later falsified to indicate that they received home health services that they had never received. Other times, the Medicare beneficiaries’ signatures were forged on forms and visit sheets to indicate that they received home health services that, in fact, were never provided.

Additionally, Ahmad admitted that he incorporated a shell company known as Century Home Care for the purpose of laundering the proceeds of the health care fraud scheme.

Today’s 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 Andrew G. Arena of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, III of the HHS Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. It 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 their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

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