A Moreland Hills couple was charged in a 24-count indictment with ordering and performing unnecessary tests and procedures to defraud insurance providers, as well as illegally distributing opioids and other drugs, law enforcement officials said.
Drs. Ashis K. Rakhit, 65, and Jayati Gupta Rakhit, 56, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 11 counts of health care fraud and six counts of false statements relating to health care matters. They are both charged with three counts each of distribution of controlled substances.
The Rakhits, who are married, were both medical doctors who specialized in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. They both had privileges at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and operated Ohio Cardiology Associates, Inc., which had locations at 2322 East 22nd Street in Cleveland, 10850 Pearl Road in Strongsville and 6789 Ridge Road in Parma. Ashis Rakhit also practiced at 7211 Broadway Ave. in Cleveland, according to the indictment.
The Rakhits ordered and performed unnecessary medical tests between 2011 and 2018, including but not limited to unnecessary nuclear stress tests, cardiac catheterizations, bone density scans, echocardiograms, EKGs, carotid artery scans, venous ultrasounds of the legs and abdominal ultrasounds, according to the indictment.
They also recorded false symptoms in patient records to justify medically unnecessary tests on patients, including shortness of breath, palpitations, hypertension and abnormalities in breathing, according to the indictment.
The Rakhits billed Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers with inflated codes to reflect a service more costly than that which was actually performed, according to the indictment.
The Rakhits also intentionally distributed and dispensed controlled substances outside the usual course of medical practice. Ashis Rakhit is charged with distributing Percocet and Xanax in 2017, while Jayati Rakhit is charged with distributing Tramadol, according to the indictment.
“This couple violated the trust of their patients, the taxpayers and the community,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “They performed unnecessary medical tests and billed for services they didn’t actually provide in exchange for prescription medications – all of this at a time when our region is inundated in opioid deaths and addiction.”
“Not only did these physicians put their patients through unnecessary medical procedures so they could line their pockets with extra income, they also prescribed controlled narcotics that were not medically required,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “Given the current opioid epidemic, prescribing unnecessary narcotics only further contributes to this crisis. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to hold accountable those in the medical field who choose to engage in criminal activity.”
“The submission of claims for up-coded, inflated, or medically unnecessary services to Medicare or Medicaid is illegal,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “Providing medically unnecessary procedures and tests is of great concern as it can compromise a patient’s health and safety. The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify these types of improper practices and will take action to protect the health and welfare of patients and taxpayer dollars.”
“I am pleased that my office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was able to assist in the investigation that led to these indictments,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We will continue to go after those who contribute to our state’s opioid crisis by illegally distributing opiates and defrauding insurers through inflated insurance claims.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon said: “The Drug Enforcement Administration has made it a priority to address the dangerous practice of illegally diverting prescription medications. The successful investigation into Ashis Rakhit and Jayati Gupta Rakhit is just one example of DEA's determination to combat the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country. These doctors violated the public trust by ordering unnecessary medical procedures and illegally diverting prescription drugs in northern Ohio. The indictments of the Rakhits makes it clear that the DEA, and our partners, will continue to bring those responsible for the illegal distribution of prescription medicines to justice.”
The investigation is ongoing. If you or someone you know may be a victim of these allegations, or if you have information that may be relevant to these allegations, please contact the FBI at 216-583-5328.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael L. Collyer and Chelsea Rice following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Ohio Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The burden of proof is always on the government to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.