Former Medical Director and Two Former Operators of a Houston Medical Clinic Charged in Multimillion-Dollar Health Care Fraud Scheme
A medical director and two operators of a Houston, Texas, medical clinic were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their alleged participation in a multimillion-dollar health care fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region, Special Agent in Charge Kristie K. Osswald of the Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
Douglas Sharp, D.O., 69, of Katy, Texas, the medical director of Verimed Health and Medical Wellness Clinic Inc. (Verimed); Innad Husaini, M.D., 64, of Sugar Land, Texas, the owner and operator of Verimed; and Hanh Hong Thi Nguyen, 43, of Houston, the former operator of Verimed, were each charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas. Sharp, Husaini and Nguyen were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. In addition, Sharp was charged with three counts of false statements relating to health care matters, Husaini was charged with three counts of health care fraud and Nguyen was charged with two counts of health care fraud. The three defendants were arrested this morning and appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray of the Southern District of Texas. A trial date has not yet been set.
The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in a health care fraud scheme by which they submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid for home health care services, diagnostic tests and eye procedures, including injections into the eye, that were medically unnecessary, not provided or both. Nguyen allegedly ordered diagnostic tests on and conducted physicial examinations of patients, even though she was not a licensed medical professional.
The indictment alleges that the defendants submitted or caused the submission of approximately $16 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare paid approximately $12.2 million on those claims. Medicaid paid approximately $67,000 on those claims. The indictment also seeks the forefeiture of two properties owned by Nguyen and one property owned by Husaini, which were paid for, at least in part, using proceeds of the alleged fraud.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and the MFCU. Trial Attorney Catherine Wagner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Olson of the Southern District of Texas, on detail from the MFCU, are prosecuting the case.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.