Washington: An Indian American has been sentenced to 81-months in prison and asked to pay $9.7 million in restitution along with his accomplices for his role in a wide-ranging $18 million conspiracy to defraud the Medicare programme.
US District Court Judge Sean F Cox of Michigan on Thursday also ordered Suresh Chand, 46, to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.
Warren resident Chand pleaded guilty last September to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
The conduct that formed the basis for the guilty plea occurred between 2003 and 2007, when Chand and his co-conspirators submitted claims to the Medicare programme totalling more than $18 million for therapy services that were never provided. Medicare actually paid approximately $8.5 million on those claims.
According to court documents, Chand owned and controlled two companies in Warren which purported to provide physical and occupational therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
The fictitious services reflected in the files were billed to Medicare through sham Medicare providers controlled by Chand and two of his co-conspirators.
In his plea, Chand admitted that in order to create the fictitious therapy files, he and his co-conspirators recruited and paid cash kickbacks and other inducements to Medicare beneficiaries, in exchange for the beneficiaries' signatures.
Chand acknowledged recruiting hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries for this purpose, and paying them for their signatures with cash and prescriptions for controlled substances, including Vicodin, Xanax and Soma.
Chand and his co-conspirators obtained the prescriptions for these drugs from co-conspirator physician Jose Castro-Ramirez, who prescribed controlled substances for beneficiaries he had never seen.