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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

United States Attorney Announces $650,000 Settlement with Acadiana Cardiology, Acadiana Cardiovascular Center, and Convicted Doctor, Mehmood Patel, for False Claims Allegations

LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced  a $650,000 settlement was reached with Acadiana Cardiology LLC, Acadiana Cardiovascular Center and convicted doctor, Mehmood Patel, M.D., concerning allegations that Patel performed unnecessary medical procedures and billed Medicare.

In the criminal proceedings, Patel was indicted on 94 counts of health care fraud on February 16, 2006, and a jury found him guilty on December 30, 2008 after a two-month trial of 51 counts of health care fraud.  He was sentenced on June 4, 2009, to serve 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $387,511 in restitution and a $175,000 fine.  In August of 2006, Our Lady of Lourdes agreed to pay a $3.8 million settlement, and in January of 2008, Lafayette General Medical Center agreed to pay a $1.9 million settlement to settle claims.

The United States intervened in the lawsuit Dr. Christopher Mallavarapu, a cardiologist who formerly practiced with Patel in Lafayette, brought against Acadiana Cardiology LLC, Acadiana Cardiovascular Center LLC, Mehmood Patel, a Professional Medical Corp., and Mehmood Patel, M.D., to recover damages under the False Claims Act.  The False Claims Act, a federal civil fraud statute, allows individuals who have witnessed fraud to file suit on behalf of the United States under the statute’s qui tam provisions and, under appropriate circumstances, they are allowed to share in a portion of any monetary recovery that is made.  The statute allows the government to recoup dollars obtained through fraud and misrepresentation.

From 2000 to 2003, the United States alleged that the defendants submitted 207 false claims for unnecessary cardiovascular, endovascular and related procedures that Patel performed at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Lafayette General Medical Center, Acadiana Cardiology and Acadiana Cardiovascular Center.  Federal law allows coverage and payment for only those services that are considered to be medically reasonable and necessary.

“This is a significant recovery,” Finley said.  “Health care providers should know they will be held accountable for the care that they provide and the claims they submit for care.  We hope this settlement sends a message that those in the health care industry who overcharge federal programs and perform medically unnecessary treatments will be held accountable, both criminally and civilly.”

“Any time greed replaces medical necessity as the primary factor in performing invasive diagnostic procedures, our most vulnerable citizens, the nation's elderly, are imperiled,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Dallas Regional Office. “This was a most egregious example of a money hungry physician unnecessarily placing his own patients at risk to line his pockets.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen J. King and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine W. Vincent handled the civil case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelley P. Uebinger prosecuted the criminal case.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

 

Updated February 24, 2015