Two Individuals Charged in Health Care Fraud Scheme Involving Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center with Multiple Pennsylvania Locations
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced today the filing of federal charges in connection with a health care fraud scheme involving Liberation Way, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization that had treatment centers in Yardley, Bala Cynwyd, and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Dr. Ramesh Sarvaiya, 64, of Voorhees, New Jersey, and Jessie Peters, 44, of Lake Worth, Florida, charged separately by Information, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation 18 U.S.C. § 371. The federal charges were announced at a press conference announcing related state charges filed by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
The federal charging documents allege each man participated in an elaborate scheme involving thousands of medically-unnecessary urine tests ordered by Dr. Sarvaiya and processed by a lab in Florida associated with Peters. The charging documents allege that defendant Sarvaiya ordered tests to be performed on samples obtained from Liberation Way patients, even though Sarvaiya never treated those patients. The tests were then sent to Florida-based laboratories for a battery of unnecessary tests, and Peters allegedly paid kickbacks to principals at Liberation Way in return for directing the samples to his company.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, along with restitution of millions to the victims of this fraud.
“With these charges, we intend to send a clear message to those seeking to build their fortunes on fraud and the despair of individuals battling addiction: health care fraud and the opioid epidemic are major priorities for the United States Attorney’s Office, and your illegal actions will be uncovered,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams at the press conference earlier today. “We are honored to work together with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Florida State Attorney’s Office, as well as with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services–Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Personnel Management–Office of the Inspector General, on these critical issues that impact each and every individual as a health care consumer.”
“It’s shameful when medical professionals prioritize profits over patients,” said Christian Zajac, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “For those involved, insurance schemes must seem like a convenient way to cash in. Just know that the FBI, alongside our state and federal partners, is committed to finding, investigating and bringing to justice anyone defrauding this country’s vital healthcare system. In other words: you won’t get away with it forever.”
"Today's fine work by the Department of Justice, OPM-OIG criminal investigators, and our other law enforcement partners demonstrates our office's commitment to combatting fraud and abuse in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program," said Thomas W. South, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Office of Personnel Management. "We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute all individuals who seek to steal taxpayer dollars and drive up health care costs for Federal employees and their families."
“Combating health care fraud and the opioid epidemic are top priorities, said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge, of the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG). HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of all HHS Programs.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Florida State Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Winter.
An Indictment, Information or Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.