Detroit-area resident Muhammad Shahab pleaded guilty today for his role in organizing a Detroit-area home health care fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office.
Shahab, 50, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood of the Eastern District of Michigan. At sentencing, scheduled for June 17, 2010, Shahab faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to information contained in plea documents, Shahab helped finance and establish two Detroit-area home health agencies, Patient Choice Home Healthcare Inc. (Patient Choice), and All American Home Care Inc. (All American). Shahab admitted that while operating or being associated with both home health agencies, he and his co-conspirators billed Medicare for home health visits that never occurred.
Shahab admitted that he and his co-conspirators recruited and paid cash kickbacks and other inducements to Medicare beneficiaries, in exchange for the beneficiaries’ Medicare numbers and signatures on documents falsely indicating that they had visited Patient Choice and All American for the purpose of receiving physical or occupational therapy. Shahab admitted that a large number of the beneficiaries were not homebound nor did they need any physical therapy services.
Shahab also admitted to securing physician referrals for medically unnecessary home health services through the payment of kickbacks to physicians or individuals associated with physicians. Shahab employed several physical therapists and physical therapy assistants to sign medical documentation necessary to begin billing for home health care services, including initial payments and payments for each visit to a Medicare beneficiary. Shahab admitted that he knew the physical therapists and physical therapy assistants were not actually conducting a large majority of the visits or treating a large majority of the patients. Shahab admitted to billing and receiving payment from Medicare for the services not rendered or medically unnecessary services.
Between approximately August 2007 and October 2009, Shahab and his co-conspirators at Patient Choice and All American submitted approximately $10,856,130 in claims to the Medicare program for physical and occupational therapy services that were never rendered or were medically unnecessary.
This case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney John K. Neal and Trial Attorney Gejaa T. Gobena of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. The case 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, Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 500 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $1 billion. In addition, HHS’s 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.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov