Indian-American Jailed For 17 Years For Healthcare Fraud

MICHIGAN (TIP): Yet anotherIndian-American, a pharmacist, hasbeen sentenced to 17 years in prison bya US court for a healthcare fraudworth millions.Babubhai (Bob) Patel, 50, whoowned and operated 26 pharmaciesacross metro Detroit, was sentenced ina Michigan court, five months after ajury convicted him of billing thegovernment for more than USD 57million for painkillers that weremedically unnecessary or neverprovided.The government said he paiddoctors to write the orders and hadrecruiters offer cash to poor people inexchange for their Medicare orMedicaid number.

He was arrested on August 2, 2011.In addition to 17 years ofimprisonment, the court also orderedPatel to pay restitution to the Medicaidand Medicare programs in the amountof USD 17.3 million, and restitution toBlue Cross Blue Shield in the amountof USD 1.5 million.In sentencing the defendant, thecourt told the defendant that “whatyou have done is reprehensible.”The criminal conduct engaged in byother health care fraud violatorssentenced by the court was “smallscale compared to this.”According to evidence presentedduring a six-week jury trial concluding in August 2012, Patelbetween 2006 and 2011, billed Medicareand Medicaid more than USD 57million.

At least 25 per cent of those billingswere for drugs that were eithermedically unnecessary neverdispensed.Additional amounts werefraudulently billed to private insurerssuch as Blue Cross Blue Shield ofMichigan.The pharmacies operated on abusiness model that paid kickbacks tophysicians in exchange for writingprescriptions for expensivemedications, the Justice Departmentsaid.The affiliated doctors would alsowrite prescriptions for controlledsubstances, without regard to medicalnecessity, which would be filled at thepharmacies and distributed to paid”patients” and patient recruiters.The expensive non-controlledmedications would be billed but notdispensed.Earlier this week, the US courtsentenced an Indian Canadian (BrijeshRawal) and two Indian nationals -Ashwini Sharma and Lokesh Tayal –to 68 months of imprisonment fortheir participation as pharmacists inthese criminal offenses.They will be deported to theircountry of citizenship uponcompletion of their sentences.

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