Fraud scheme flooded streets with pain pills, feds say
Detroit — A $200 million health care fraud scheme based in Detroit distributed more than 4.2 million doses of prescription drugs, including oxycodone and other pills fueling the nation's opioid crisis, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The allegations were contained in a new federal indictment against four doctors and pain clinic CEO Mashiyat Rashid, 38, of West Bloomfield Township, who prosecutors say orchestrated a health-care fraud conspiracy that ranks among the largest in Detroit history.
The indictment provides new details about the conspiracy's inner workings and profits that prosecutors say bankrolled Rashid's luxury lifestyle. He spent fraud proceeds on a $7 million Franklin mansion, courtside NBA tickets, exotic cars including a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce Ghost, clothes from Hermes and rare Richard Mille watches, according to the government.
The alleged fraud first emerged in July 2017 when Rashid and others were originally charged in federal court. The new indictment added additional charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
“We are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Sadly, some corporate executives and medical professionals continue to exploit vulnerable patients and the American taxpayer for profit."
The scheme involved a network of Michigan and Ohio pain clinics, laboratories and other medical providers and subjected drug addicts to unnecessary back injections, prosecutors said. Rashid and several doctors conspired to obtain patients by prescribing more than 4.2 million doses of medically unnecessary prescription drugs. The drugs prescribed to Medicare beneficiaries included oxycodone, hydrocodone and oxymorphone, some of which were sold on the street, the indictment alleges.
The doctors charged in the new indictment are:
• Spilios Pappas of Monclova, Ohio.
• Joseph Betro of Novi.
• Tariq Omar of West Bloomfield Township.
• Mohammed Zahoor of Novi.
“It is a sad day when a physician allows greed to drive their moral compass and willfully violate their Hippocratic Oath to protect and treat their patients,” Don Fort, chief of the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigations division, said in a statement.
The original indictment disrupted construction on Rashid’s 10,300-square-foot estate near 13 Mile and Crestwood in leafy Franklin.
Architectural plans show the home was designed to include an indoor subterranean basketball court.
Federal agents had Rashid under surveillance last summer and watched him travel to an area Bank of America branch.
Agents spotted him leaving with a duffel bag. A bank employee told investigators Rashid withdrew $500,000 in $100 bills.
Rashid legally withdrew the cash so he could reinvest in his companies, his lawyer said.