Serial Health Care Fraudster Sentenced for $234M Medicare Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
A California man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for conspiring to conceal his involvement in operating a laboratory and billing Medicare approximately $234 million for various lab tests, including COVID-19 and respiratory pathogen panel tests, despite his decades-long exclusion from the Medicare program.
“Criminals who cheat federal health programs and profit at the expense of American taxpayers will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As our country was battling the COVID-19 pandemic, this individual was fraudulently billing Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, thanks to the work of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, he will now spend 10 years in federal prison for his crimes. We will continue to disrupt schemes that defraud the federal health programs the American people rely on, and we will hold accountable those who perpetrate those schemes.”
According to court documents, Imran Shams, 65, of Glendale, was convicted of Medicare and Medicaid fraud in separate 1990 and 2001 cases in New York and California, respectively. After each conviction, he was excluded from participation in Medicare and all federal health care programs, and advised by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) that he had to submit a written application to be considered for reinstatement in federal health care programs. Shams never sought reinstatement, yet he continued to operate health care clinics in New York that billed federal health care programs. In November 2017, Shams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and other charges in the Eastern District of New York related to his operation of these clinics.
By 2018, Shams was an owner, operator, and manager of Matias Clinical Laboratory, doing business as Health Care Providers Laboratory (HCPL), a Baldwin Park, California-based clinical testing laboratory that billed Medicare and other federal health care programs. In order to maintain HCPL’s status as a Medicare provider and enable it to receive payments from Medicare for its testing services, Shams and a co-conspirator fraudulently concealed Shams’ role in HCPL from Medicare, including failing to submit required enrollment documentation identifying Shams’ ownership, management position, and prior convictions; causing the submission of false documentation to Medicare identifying another person as HCPL’s sole owner and managing officer; submitting false documentation concerning HCPL’s ownership and management to the California Department of Public Health; and making false statements to the U.S. Probation Office and Pretrial Services Agency while Shams was on federal court supervision following his 2017 conviction. Between August 2018 and April 2022, when the grand jury returned the indictment in this case and Shams was arrested and ordered detained without bond, HCPL fraudulently billed Medicare approximately $234 million. Medicare paid HCPL approximately $31.7 million based on these fraudulent claims.
Shams pleaded guilty in the Central District of California on Jan. 24, 2023, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and concealment of his exclusion from Medicare.
In addition to the term of imprisonment, Shams was ordered to forfeit $31,761,286.21, including $4,513,106.30 in funds that the government previously seized from two bank accounts, as well as his interest in two residential properties and one business property in the Los Angeles area. Shams was also ordered to pay $31,761,286.21 in restitution.
“Shams engaged in a years-long scheme in which he billed American taxpayers nearly $234 million and lined his pockets with millions of dollars of funds intended for the health and welfare of patients,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to rooting out fraud to help ensure critical healthcare funds go where they are needed most.”
“The integrity of the federal health care system rests, in part, on providers’ proper, lawful billing of Medicare and other HHS programs,” said Inspector General Christi A. Grimm of HHS-OIG. “Providers who violate federal health care law and defy measures intended to protect programs and patients from fraud will be held accountable. We remain steadfast and persistent in our efforts to investigate schemes targeting federal health care programs.”
The FBI Los Angeles Field Office and HHS-OIG investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Gary A. Winters and Raymond E. Beckering III of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maxwell Coll for the Central District of California handled the financial penalties.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, currently comprised of nine strike forces operating in 27 federal districts, has charged more than 5,400 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $27 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.
Updated January 30, 2024
Health Care Fraud