Physician Charged with Receiving a Kickback
ROCKFORD — An Illinois physician was arrested this morning on a charge of illegal remunerations. NEIL SHARMA, 34, of Lemont, Illinois, a licensed Illinois physician and the medical director of an Illinois healthcare company, is charged with receiving a kickback in the amount of $2,500 in cash, from an individual in return for his referring Medicaid and Medicare patients to the individual's company for medical treatment.
According to the complaint and supporting affidavit, Sharma is employed by Company A, which is contracted with both Medicare and Illinois Medicaid to provide health care benefits to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Company A is a managed care organization contracted with the State of Illinois to provide services under Illinois’ Integrated Care Program. Company A gets paid Medicaid funds based on the number of Medicaid patients enrolled with the company. As the medical director of Company A, SHARMA is involved in all major clinical patient care programs including review of medical care provided and medical professional aspects of provider contracts.
Also described in the complaint and supporting affidavit, Company B is contracted with Company A to provide services for Medicaid beneficiaries. In February 2015, SHARMA offered an individual who owns Company B an additional 500 patients at an increased rate. SHARMA also offered to refer to Company B Medicaid and Medicare patients in two new programs Company A planned to implement. In exchange, SHARMA wanted a cash payment immediately and additional cash payments every month after for an unidentified length of time. SHARMA planned to conceal the payments received from the individual by being named the medical director for the individual’s other health care companies not contracted with Company A.
According to the complaint and supporting affidavit, on February 27, 2015, in Rockford, the individual provided SHARMA $2,500 in United States currency. After SHARMA received the $2,500, on March 9, 2015, Company B started seeing new Medicaid and Medicare patients referred by SHARMA that are part of one of Company A’s new programs.
The charge of illegal remunerations carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, and full restitution. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. Sharma is scheduled to appear today in Federal Court in Rockford before U.S. Magistrate Iain D. Johnston at 11:00 a.m. for arraignment.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The arrest was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini.