A Louisiana psychiatrist was sentenced in federal court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today to serve 86 months in prison for his role in a $258.5 million Medicare fraud scheme involving partial hospitalization psychiatric services. He was further ordered to pay $43.5 million in restitution and to forfeit all proceeds from the fraudulent scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney J. Walter Green of the Middle District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Special Agent in Charge Michael Anderson of the FBI’s New Orleans Division and Louisiana State Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell made the announcement. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian A. Jackson of the Middle District of Louisiana imposed the sentence.
According to documents filed in the case, Zahid Imran, M.D., 56, of Baton Rouge, served as the medical director of Shifa Community Mental Health Center of Baton Rouge, and co-owned Serenity Center of Baton Rouge and Shifa Community Mental Health Center of Texas. As part of the scheme, Imran admitted mentally ill patients to the facilities, some of whom were inappropriate for partial hospitalization, and then re-certified the patients’ appropriateness for the program in an effort to continue to bill Medicare for services. To support the fraudulent Medicare billing, Imran and others falsified patient treatment records to reflect services on dates when no such services were provided. Imran pleaded guilty on May 13, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Law enforcement’s 2011 investigation into the three community mental health centers has resulted in 17 convictions of individuals employed by the facilities, including therapists, marketers, administrators, owners and the medical director. The companies billed Medicare for partial hospitalization program services for the mentally ill that were unnecessary or never provided over a period of approximately seven years. The companies, collectively, submitted more than $258 million in claims to Medicare during this period. Medicare paid approximately $43.5 million on those claims.
The case is being investigated by HHS-OIG, the FBI and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Abigail Taylor and Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shubhra Shivpuri of the Middle District of Louisiana.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 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.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .