Medicare fraud suspect ordered freed on $500K bond
Detroit — A local health care executive charged with defrauding Medicare out of $132 million through “sham” medical businesses was ordered freed on $500,000 bond Friday, but with extensive conditions.
U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood granted bond for Mashiyat Rashid, 37, over the objections of federal prosecutors, who argued Rashid, a West Bloomfield resident, is a flight risk.
Hood ordered the Rashid be placed under house arrest with a GPS electronic tether. He is not allowed to have a smartphone or computer with access to the Internet.
Hood said he could only leave his home to meet with his attorney or for emergency reasons. He is not allowed to leave the state, and his passport has been surrendered. Other conditions prevent him from managing or investing in health care businesses.
Rashid faces up to life in federal prison if he is convicted of the charges, which include health fraud conspiracy, money laundering and receiving kickbacks.
In making her ruling, Hood said she does not feel Rashid is a danger to the community despite arguments by a federal prosecutor that he reportedly has made threats against other witnesses in the case.
“I don’t think it’s been shown he’s a danger to the community,” Hood said Friday in ordering Rashid released while he awaits trial.
The judge cited Rashid’s parents’ long ties to the area and said she does not feel he would want to break his ties to his parents, who live in Oakland County, by fleeing.
“If he flees, he pretty much has lost his relationship with them,” said Hood.
But the government’s lawyer sees it differently.
“There is no dispute there that the defendant has the means to flee,” Jacob Foster, an attorney with the Department of Justice, told Hood during a Wednesday hearing.
According to a brief filed Thursday by federal prosecutors, Rashid allegedly told a government witness that cancer doctor Farid Fata, who gave patients chemotherapy they didn’t need, should have left the country before being arrested four years ago.
“Defendant stated that Dr. Fata was dumb for not fleeing the country because Dr. Fata had a lot of money with which he could have lived a good life abroad,” the brief quotes Rashid as saying.
Foster said Wednesday in court that Rashid has enough money at his disposal “to allow the defendant to live comfortably abroad.”
Rashid, the alleged mastermind behind an alleged $132 million health care fraud scheme, is scheduled for trial later this month on a 10-count criminal indictment.
Hood heard arguments Wednesday from Foster and defense attorney Walter Piszczatowski on whether to grant Rashid bond.
Hood continued the hearing until Friday after Foster told her that Rashid had applied to the federal government’s Trusted Traveler program for himself and three others. The program helps travelers speed through Transportation Security Administration lines.
Rashid’s attorney told Hood that his client applied for the program in June with plans of family trips to Los Angeles and Houston.
Piszczatowski argued Wednesday that his client needed to be released so he can help with his legal defense.
“There are no facts of this defendant preparing to leave the country. No facts,” Piszczatowski said. “He gave them the passport. They have his iPhone. There are no texts (that indicate he plans to leave). There is no transfer of any assets to any foreign bank.”
Prosecutors opposed releasing Rashid on bond, saying he has access to huge sums of cash.
Prosecutors say an informant has told them Rashid has access to a jet to get him out of the country.
The government alleged that Rashid withdrew $500,000 from his bank account and stuffed the cash in a duffel bag. Federal agents who had him under investigation allegedly watched Rashid walk out of the bank with the money.
Piszczatowski said in his earlier arguments before Hood that Rashid was going to use the money for “extras” that were being added to a nearly $7 million home he is constructing in Franklin. He said the medical executive also wanted to have cash on hand for trips with his family and for unexpected expenses.
Federal authorities call the alleged scheme one of the biggest in Metro Detroit history, involving medical companies such as Tri-County Physicians and National Laboratories, which were raided by the FBI last month in the Fisher Building.
Federal prosecutors allege that Rashid led a medical conspiracy that involved submitting bogus bills to Medicare and giving unnecessary back injections to addicts and prescribing them pain medication that ultimately were sold on the streets of Metro Detroit.