Michigan Vascular Surgeon Sentenced to 80 Months in Prison for Health Care Fraud Conviction and Agrees to Pay Up to $43.419 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
DETROIT – Five individuals, including a physician and a certified social worker, were charged in a Second Superseding Indictment for their alleged roles in an $11 million health care fraud scheme, which involved submitting false claims to Medicare for purported psychotherapy services that were induced by kickbacks and/or never rendered, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
Mohammad Kazkaz is also charged with six counts of money laundering for engaging in monetary transactions exceeding $10,000 including transferring more than $1.4 million dollars in fraudulent health care fraud proceeds to a national restaurant chain.
Joining in the announcement were James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mario Pinto, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
Charged as members of the conspiracy in the indictment are:
Mohamed Kazkaz, 54, of Farmington Hills, Michigan;
Ziad Khalel, 52, of Rochester Hills, Michigan;
Dr. Mustafa Hares, 76, of West Bloomfield, Michigan;
Geraldine Letman, MSW, 70, of Phoenix, Arizona; and
Gamela Ali, 33, of Dearborn, Michigan.
The indictment alleges that Kazkaz was the owner and operator of Centre HRW, a psychotherapy agency in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Kazkaz offered and provided kickbacks and bribes to Khalel, who was a patient recruiter, as an inducement to refer Medicare beneficiaries to Centre HRW for psychotherapy services, even though such services were medically unnecessary and were never rendered. Khalel would require the recruited Medicare beneficiaries to sign blank Centre HRW sign-in sheets to allow Kazkaz to submit claims to Medicare, through Centre HRW, for psychotherapy services that were never provided.
Ali, as the office manager of Centre CRW, was responsible for obtaining information regarding the patients’ legitimate medical visits to ensure Kazkaz did not submit claims for a psychotherapy appointment on the same date the patient had a legitimate appointment with another medical provider. Dr. Hares and Letman would complete fraudulent patient charts indicating they had seen the patient, when in fact, such psychotherapy services were never rendered and/or were induced by kickbacks. As a result of the false and fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare, Centre HRW billed Medicare more than $11 million and Medicare made payments to Centre HRW in an amount more than $5.3 million.
Kazkaz and Khalel were originally charged in a January 11, 2023 indictment. Dr. Hares, Letman, and Ali were added as new defendants in today’s Second Superseding Indictment.
“My office is committed to prosecuting any individual, especially medical professionals, who exploits Medicare, a taxpayer-funded program that provides essential services to seniors and disabled individuals,” stated U.S. Attorney Ison.
“The payment of kickbacks to induce referrals for medical services in Federal health care programs, as well as billing for services not rendered, can undermine the trust we place in our nation’s providers and results in costly reductions to our federal health care programs," said Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit fraud and pay kickbacks are held accountable.”
“Health care professionals who fraudulently bill Medicare for services never actually provided divert taxpayer money meant to pay for medically necessary services for people enrolled in Medicare,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to eradicate schemes that defraud government-sponsored health care programs.”
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Regina R. McCullough and Philip A. Ross. Assistant United States Attorney K. Craig Welkener, of the Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Unit, is handling related forfeiture matters. The investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG