FROM: U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Long Island Doctor Arrested and Accused of Multi-million Medicare Fraud Scheme
A Long Island, N.Y., doctor was arrested today on charges that he submitted millions of dollars in false billings to Medicare.
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
Dr. Syed Imran Ahmed, 49, was charged with one count of health care fraud by a criminal complaint unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y. A seizure warrant seeking millions of dollars of Ahmed’s alleged ill-gotten gains, including the contents of seven bank accounts, was also unsealed. In addition, a civil forfeiture complaint was also filed today against Ahmed’s residence located in Muttontown, N.Y., valued at approximately $4 million. Further, search warrants were executed earlier today at six locations in New York, Michigan and Nevada. Ahmed’s initial appearance is scheduled this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go.
“The Medicare system entrusts doctors to provide patients with the care and services they need,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil. “The charges unsealed today allege that Dr. Ahmed billed millions of dollars to Medicare for surgical procedures that he did not actually perform. These charges are yet another example of the Department of Justice’s determination to hold accountable those who abuse the trust placed in them and steal from the system for personal gain.”
“As alleged, Ahmed created phantom medical procedures to steal very real taxpayer money. The defendant sought to enrich himself and fund his lifestyle through billing Medicare for services he never performed,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We are committed to protecting these taxpayer-funded programs and prosecuting those who steal from them.”
“Fraudulently billing the government defrauds every American taxpayer,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos. “We will investigate cases of graft and greed to protect important programs for those who need them.”
“For a single physician, the alleged conduct in this case is among the most serious I've seen in my law enforcement career," said HHS-OIG SAC O’Donnell. “Being a Medicare provider is a privilege, not a right. When Dr. Ahmed allegedly billed Medicare for procedures he never performed, he violated the basic trust that taxpayers extend to healthcare providers.”
As alleged in the complaint, Ahmed engaged in a scheme to submit claims to Medicare for surgical procedures that were not in fact performed. The complaint alleges multiple instances in which either patients told law enforcement officers that they never had the procedures that were billed, or hospital medical records did not contain any evidence that the procedures were actually performed. From January 2011 through mid-December 2013, Medicare was billed at least $85 million for surgical procedures purportedly performed by Ahmed.
The investigation has been conducted by the FBI and HHS-OIG and brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Turner Buford of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Campos and Erin Argo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.