Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Four Individuals Charged in Detroit for Alleged Roles in Medicare Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – Four individuals were charged in court documents unsealed today in the Eastern District of Michigan for their participation in a Medicare fraud scheme involving home health services, announced the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FBI, and the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

According to court documents unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the scheme allegedly involved a total of more than $1.6 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare for home health care services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided.  All four defendants were arrested this morning.  In addition, law enforcement agents today executed search warrants at two locations and seizure warrants for 16 bank accounts related to the alleged fraud schemes.

Four individuals are charged in one indictment including one physician, two clinic owners and one nurse.  According to court documents, the conspiracy was allegedly operated out of Angle’s Touch Home Health Care LLC, a home health agency in Taylor, Mich.

Defendants charged include:  Dr. Sonjai Poonpanij, 77, of Rochester, Mich.; clinic owners Attaullah Arain, 45, of Brownstown, Mich., and Nadia Arain, 39, of Brownstown; and registered nurse Judith Ragasa, 49, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section.  The investigations were conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG, as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Criminal Division's Fraud Section.

Indictments and criminal complaints contain merely charges, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,330 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is 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.

12-1117