Feds charge 7 with $132M Medicare fraud

Sarah Rahal, and Robert Snell

Detroit – Seven people were indicted Wednesday and accused of conspiring to defraud Medicare out of almost $132 million as a team of FBI agents raided their offices in the Fisher Building.

The indictment, unsealed Wednesday in federal court, alleges the defendants participated in a nearly decade-long conspiracy that defrauded Medicare through a series of kickbacks and bribes.

The indictment appears to be part of an annual, nationwide crackdown on health care fraud. Two years ago, federal agents charged 243 people nationwide with participating in fraudulent schemes that involved $712 million in false billings.

This year’s health care fraud crackdown, and the Detroit indictment, is expected to be outlined Thursday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In 2015, the enforcement sweep led to 16 arrests on charges relating to schemes that involved more than $122 million.

The indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges the seven defendants conspired in a scheme involving $131.8 million.

The alleged scheme involved paying kickbacks and bribes for services billed to Medicare.

The seven people charged are:

■Mashiyat Rashid of Oakland County.

■Yasser Mozeb of Oakland County.

■Spilios Pappas of Ohio.

■Abdul Haq of Washtenaw County.

■Joseph Betro of Oakland County.

■Tariq Omar of Oakland County.

■Mohammed Zahoor of Oakland County.

Ages and hometowns were not immediately available Wednesday.

Mozeb, Pappas, Haq, Betro, Omar and Zahoor were released on $10,000 unsecured bond Wednesday. Rashid was arraigned and temporarily held without bond.

Four offices at the Fisher Building, where most of the seven people conducted business, were raided Wednesday by the FBI. A Detroit News photographer captured part of the raid in offices 305 and 306.

The business being raided include Aqua Therapy and Pain Management Inc., which was run by Rashid; Tri-State Physician Group, run by Pappas; New Center Medical P.C.; and National Laboratories Inc.

The other companies include Global Quality Inc., Tri-County Physician Group P.C. and Tri-County Wellness Inc., which served as a management company, at 3800 Woodward Ave.

Omar and Zahoor are enrolled as providers with Medicare for Tri-County Physician. Mozeb was paid by Rashid and received payments from Global Quality and Tri-County Wellness. They opened bank accounts in the name of ISN Marketing to receive payments, according to the indictment.

The conspiracy has continued for nearly a decade and involved sending false and fraudulent materials to Medicare, the indictment alleges.

They disguised ownership and billed Medicare for false treatments, entered into sham agreements and made misrepresentations and omissions in the enrollment applications and claims submitted to Medicare, the government claims.

“Physicians … would prescribe medically unnecessary controlled substances, including Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Opana, to Tri-County Network beneficiaries,” according to the indictment.

The indictment lists nine charges, including health care fraud conspiracy, health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and receiving and paying kickbacks.