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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Two Michigan Home Health Agency Owners Sentenced to Prison for Health Care Fraud

Two Detroit-area home health agency owners were sentenced to 10 and six years in prison, respectively, for their roles in a multimillion dollar scheme to defraud Medicare by billing for home health services that were never provided.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’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.

Hafiz Tahir, 49, and Tasneem Tahir, 44, both of Brownstown, Michigan, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani of the Eastern District of Michigan, to 10 and six years in prison, respectively. Judge Battani also ordered the defendants to pay restitution in the amount of $9,674,575 and $4,447,667, respectively, jointly and severally with their co-conspirators.  Judge Battani entered money judgments against Hafiz Tahir, in the amount of $5,575,562.33, and Tasneem Tahir, in the amount of $2,605,176.70.  The Tahirs were also ordered to forfeit to the United States their interest in $226,000 located in a Lebanese bank, two pieces of real property and cash in lieu of two vehicles.  The defendants each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks. 

As part of their guilty pleas, Hafiz and Tasneem Tahir admitted that they paid illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries to home health agencies that they owned.  They further admitted that between 2009 and 2017, they submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services that were never provided. 

Hafiz and Tasneem Tahir were charged along with Hoda Sabbagh, aka Donna Hamadani, 54, of Milford, Michigan; Emma King, 69, of Detroit, Michigan; and Antonio Kho, 72, of Oak Park, Michigan.  King and Kho pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing.  Sabbagh remains a fugitive. 

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Rebecca Yuan of the Fraud Section prosecuted the case.  The financial investigation was conducted in coordination with the Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Shankar Ramamurthy of the Eastern District of Michigan handled the asset forfeiture proceedings.  

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in 12 cities across the country, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Updated October 18, 2018