The owner of several Detroit home health care companies was sentenced today to 360 months in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme that caused approximately $33 million in losses.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.
Zafar Mehmood, 50, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan, who also ordered Mehmood to pay $40,488,106.98 in restitution. Forfeiture will be determined at a hearing on Nov. 7, 2016. On July 27, 2015, Mehmood was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering and two counts of obstruction of justice.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2006 through 2011, Mehmood participated in a scheme in which he obtained patients by paying cash kickbacks to recruiters, who in turn paid cash to patients to induce them to sign up for home health care with Mehmood’s companies: Access Care Home Care Inc., Patient Care Home Care Inc., Hands On Healing Home Care Inc. and All State Home Care Inc. The evidence also showed that he paid kickbacks to physicians to refer patients to the companies for unnecessary home health care services.
In addition, trial evidence showed that Mehmood and his co-conspirators falsified records to make it appear as if the patients qualified for and received the services for which Medicare paid over $33 million during the course of the conspiracy. Mehmood used a co-conspirator to launder the proceeds of the fraud through shell companies under Mehmood’s control, according to trial evidence.
Trial evidence also demonstrated that while visiting an HHS-OIG facility during pretrial release to review evidence with his attorney, Mehmood stole incriminating documents that law enforcement authorities had seized during the execution of search warrants at Mehmood’s companies. Law enforcement agents subsequently recovered the missing documents in a search of Mehmood’s jail cell.
A co-defendant, Badar Ahmadani, was also convicted at trial of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks. Ahmadani is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 7, 2016.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which 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. Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and A. Brendan Stewart prosecuted the case.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $10 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.