New jersey doctor and office manager wife plead guilty to medicaid & medicare fraud involving fake physicians
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A doctor with a practice in Elizabeth, N.J., and his wife pleaded guilty today to a health care fraud scheme in which more than 20,000 patient visits were conducted by individuals posing as licensed physicians for as little as $10 an hour, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Yousuf Masood, 47, and his wife, Maruk Masood, of Warren, N.J., pleaded guilty today to separate Informations charging them each with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Yousuf Masood admitted that he used unlicensed individuals to diagnose and treat patients in his Elizabeth office and billed Medicaid and Medicare as if he had provided the services. As part of his guilty plea, Yousuf Masood agreed to pay more than $1.8 million in restitution and forfeiture based on the fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare billings.
Three other individuals: Hamid Bhatti, 33, of Rahway, N.J.; Hakim Muta Muhammad, 31, of Newark; and Carlos Quijada, 31, of Hawthorne, N.J., were charged with the Masoods by Complaint on September 7, 2010, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for pretending to be doctors during patient visits. Charges against Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada remain pending.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:
The Masoods employed Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada – two of whom they had found through craigslist – at Yousuf Masood’s office in Elizabeth, paying them a wage as low as $10 an hour. Yousuf Masood and Maruk Masood were aware that Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada had graduated from medical schools in the Dominican Republic and in the West Indies, but had not passed required tests and were not licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey – including one who had failed Step 1 of the medical boards on two occasions.
Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada introduced themselves as doctors and regularly diagnosed and treated patients with Yousuf and Maruk Masood’s knowledge. The office staff referred to them as “Dr. B.,” “Dr. Q.,” “Dr. Bhatti,” “Dr. Quijada,” or “Dr. Muhammad” in the presence of patients.
Yousuf Masood was the top prescriber of drugs to Medicaid patients in New Jersey in 2009, prescribing more than $9 million in Medicaid drugs that year. The next-highest prescribing doctor in New Jersey prescribed less than $6 million. The Masoods admitted that Yousuf Masood provided Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada with pre-signed, blank prescription forms to write prescriptions in his name for patients they were improperly examining and treating.
The conspiracy charges to which Yousuf and Maruk Masood pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; the DEA, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John G. McCabe Jr.; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General region covering New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom ODonnell, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob T. Elberg, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Gaeta of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
As for defendants Bhatti, Muhammad, and Quijada, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Yousuf Masood: Justin Walder, Esq., Roseland, N.J.
Maruk Masood: John McDonald, Esq., Somerville, N.J.