Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tariq Mahmud was Sentenced to 84 Months in Prison for Role in $3 Million Therapy Fraud Scheme


WASHINGTON—The owner of a Detroit-area rehabilitation agency was sentenced today to 84 months in prison for his leading role in a $3 million Medicare fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

Detroit-area resident Tariq Mahmud, 54, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn in the Eastern District of Michigan. In addition to his prison term, Mahmud was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution, joint and several with his co-defendants.

Mahmud was convicted by a federal jury on February 2, 2012, after a four-day trial, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six counts of health care fraud. Mahmud was charged along with four other defendants in an indictment unsealed on February 17, 2011, as part of a nationwide Medicare fraud takedown, and subsequently in a superseding indictment on December 28, 2011. The four other defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Mahmud was the owner of Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services Inc. (CRS), a fraudulent rehabilitation agency located in Dearborn, Michigan. Between January 2003 and February 2007, CRS purchased falsified physical and occupational therapy files from more than 30 therapy and rehabilitation companies and used them to fraudulently bill Medicare for more than $3 million.

As part of the scheme, Medicare beneficiaries were paid cash kickbacks and given prescription drugs to sign forms and visit sheets that were later falsified to indicate that they received therapy services that were never provided. Physical and occupational therapists created false evaluations, progress notes, and discharge papers indicating that the therapy services were given, when, in fact, they never were. Evidence at trial showed that the therapists never met the beneficiaries and Mahmud never provided or supervised the therapy billed to Medicare.

In addition to submitting more than $3 million in false therapy claims, Mahmud made additional false statements to Medicare regarding services that were never rendered. For instance, when Medicare inquired regarding a beneficiary who complained that he had not received the services for which CRS billed Medicare, Mahmud returned the payment and told Medicare that he consulted with his professional staff and the beneficiary had not been satisfied with services. In fact, CRS had no professional staff; the therapists who signed the beneficiary’s file never rendered any services; and the beneficiary never received services. Evidence at trial established that the beneficiary’s identity was stolen and used by CRS and a fraudulent file-making company to bill Medicare.

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