Owner of Detroit-Area Health Care Clinics Pleads Guilty to Drug Diversion Scheme
The owner of a Detroit, Michigan-area physical therapy clinic pleaded guilty today for his role in a drug diversion scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Detroit Division 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 made the announcement.
Malik Fuqua, 49, of Southfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances before U.S. District Judge David Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan. Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 26, 2020, before Judge Lawson.
Fuqua was the owner and operator of 1st Priority Physical Therapy of [Southfield], Michigan, and also assisted in the day-to-day operations of Abyssinia Love Knot Physical Therapy LLC of Southfield, Michigan, which was purportedly a pain management and physical therapy clinic. As part of his guilty plea, Fuqua admitted that he conspired with others to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and that he oversaw physicians who would write medically unnecessary prescriptions for controlled substances, such as oxycodone and oxymorphone. Fuqua admittedly facilitated patient visits with doctors, and accepted payment from patients and patient recruiters/marketers in exchange for physician visits at which he knew that prescriptions for medically unnecessary controlled substances would be provided. Medicare beneficiaries were required to sign physical therapy documents as a condition to receive prescriptions for controlled substances, regardless of medical necessity, Fuqua admitted.
The total drug amount attributable to Fuqua is in excess of 500,000 oxycodone pills, he admitted.
The DEA and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Trial Attorney Patrick Suter and Assistant Chief Malisa Dubal of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. The case was previously prosecuted by Assistant Chief Drew Bradylyons and Trial Attorney Thomas Tynan of the Fraud Section.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.