Two Saratoga Doctors Indicted For Health Care Fraud And Money Laundering
SAN JOSE - A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Vilasini M. Ganesh and Dr. Gregory Belcher last week with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. Dr. Ganesh is a family practitioner and Dr. Belcher is an orthopedic surgeon.
According to the indictment, between 2009 and continuing through at least September 2014, Ganesh, 46, of Saratoga, Calif., together with her partner, Belcher, 54, also of Saratoga, engaged in a scheme to defraud insurance companies administering health care benefit programs (“HCBPs”). As alleged in the indictment, Ganesh and Belcher used their Saratoga medical practice, Campbell Medical Group (“CMG”), to unlawfully enrich themselves. Ganesh and Belcher are alleged to have submitted false and fraudulent claims to the HCBPs, concealed the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the HCBPs, and diverted proceeds of the fraud for their personal use. In addition, Ganesh allegedly submitted and caused to be submitted to HCBPs claims for services that she knew were not properly payable because she included (1) false codes that artificially inflated both the seriousness of the patient’s condition as well as the time that the physician spent examining the patient; (2) false diagnoses in the claims that did not correspond with the true health and presentation of the patient; (3) claims for days when the patient had not been seen by the provider; and (4) representations that the patients were seen by another physician provider (not herself) no longer affiliated with Dr. Ganesh and her practice at CMG.
The indictment further alleges that Ganesh compounded these illegal acts by misrepresenting, concealing, and hiding or directing her subordinates to misrepresent, conceal, or hide, acts done in furtherance of the scheme. Specifically, when approached by representatives of the HCBPs, or the patients themselves, to provide documentation or additional information to substantiate the claims that were being submitted at her direction and on her behalf, Ganesh either directed her office staff to have no further discussions with anyone about the claims or to simply resubmit the false information, all to avoid disclosing the truth of the underlying the scheme. Furthermore, the indictment alleges Ganesh, together with the assistance and knowledge of Belcher, submitted hundreds of claims for reimbursement from the HCBPs for: (i) days that were weekends when the CMG office located in Saratoga was closed; (ii) days on which the patient denied they were seen; and/or (iii) days when the patient could not have been seen by Ganesh or her staff because either the patient or the doctor was not physically present in California. The defendants allegedly also used billing codes that indicated Ganesh and/or Belcher had spent more than 24 hours in a single day seeing patients. The defendants also maintained multiple bank accounts through which they are alleged to have attempted to conceal the nature and source of the illegally obtained funds which resulted from their scheme to defraud.
Defendants were charged with one count of health care fraud conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(b); and six counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(l)(B)(i) and 2. In addition, defendant Ganesh was charged with five counts of health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1347 and 2, and five counts of false statements relating to health care matters, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1035. Both defendants were arrested this morning in Saratoga and made their initial appearance in federal court in San Jose this afternoon in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins. Both defendants were released on bond, pending further hearings. Bail was set at $250,000 per defendant. The defendants’ next scheduled appearance is at 1:30 on Friday, May 27, 2016, for identification of counsel and further bond proceedings before the Honorable Nathanael M. Cousins, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution for each violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1349 and 1347; and 20 years imprisonment and fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater, plus restitution, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(h) and 1956(a)(1)(B). However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amie D. Rooney is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.