Four People Indicted in $3.5 Million COVID-19 Testing Kickback Conspiracy
NEWARK, N.J. – Four people have been charged for their roles in a kickback conspiracy involving COVID-19 testing that defrauded federal health insurance programs, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Abid Syed, 45, of East Hanover, New Jersey; Tariq Din, 55, of Saddle River, New Jersey; David Weathers, 59, of the Bronx, New York; and Muhammed Aurangzeb, 45, of Robbinsville, New Jersey, are each charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute for their roles in a scheme to defraud Medicare and the Health Resources and Services Administration COVID-19 Uninsured Program. Weathers and Aurangzeb had their initial appearances via videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge José R. Almonte. Aurangzeb was released on $100,000 unsecured bond and Weathers consented to detention. Syed and Din were charged by criminal complaint on April 11, 2022.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From April 2021 to April 2022, Syed and Din operated and controlled Metpath Laboratories, a clinical laboratory located in Parsippany, New Jersey, that conducted testing to detect the presence of COVID-19 in samples obtained from patients. Through Metpath, Syed and Din paid kickbacks to “marketers” – including Weathers and Aurangzeb – for referrals of COVID-19 test samples to Metpath. Weathers and Aurangzeb were each paid $5 to $30 per referral.
The conspirators tried to make the payments appear to be for legitimate business expenses. For example, Syed altered the amount of the kickback payment to make it appear as if the marketer was a “consultant” for Metpath with legitimate business expenses. In another instance, Weathers’ company – MedtechCares Inc. – issued invoices to Metpath to make it appear as though the kickback payments from Metpath were legitimate business expenses, when in fact the payments were entirely for the referrals.
Metpath received more than $3.5 million in insurance reimbursements from federal health insurance programs for COVID-19 test samples referred by Weathers and Aurangzeb.
The charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The maximum fine for each count is $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney DeNae M. Thomas of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.