UFC Hall of Fame fighter linked to $112M conspiracy
Detroit — A hall of fame Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, a boxer, a cage fighter and a mixed martial artist were implicated Thursday in a $112 million health-care conspiracy, one day after a muscle-bound doctor was indicted by a federal grand jury.
The hall of fame fighter, a former UFC champion, is not identified in a 16-page court filing charging Josh Burns, 40, of Dexter, a former heavyweight mixed martial artist and bare-knuckle brawler, with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in a bribery and kickback scheme.
The conspiracy involves Burns and others soliciting and receiving illegal kickbacks and bribes in return for referring urine samples and drug tests to unidentified laboratories.
According to federal prosecutors, the conspiracy involves Dr. Frank Patino, a Woodhaven doctor who was indicted Wednesday and accused of orchestrating a $112 million health-care scheme and using some of the money to sponsor professional boxers and fighters.
Patino, who is jailed without bond, bankrolled his self-styled "Patino Diet" with money generated by the conspiracy, and sponsored boxers, MMA and Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters, investigators allege. His stable of sponsored fighters included hall of fame UFC fighter Urijah Faber, according to a 2013 press release.
Patino hid the kickbacks and bribes by entering into sham contracts or employment relationships, prosecutors allege. Some of the money generated by the conspiracy, including more than $100,000, was spent advertising the "Patino Diet" through sponsorship of boxers, MMA and UFC fighters, prosecutors allege.
Burns, who registered JHB Medical Management Company in Michigan, caused Medicare to pay more than $2.6 million for urine drug tests that were procured through illegal kickbacks and bribes, according to prosecutors.
A heavily tattooed Josh Burns, right, fought Hari Miles in this bare-knuckle match posted on YouTube in 2017. (Video credit: YouTube)
Burns, who competed in Bellator MMA, was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected. He could not be reached for comment and his defense attorney Ryan Machasic did not respond to a message seeking comment.
In October 2013, Burns and Patino were linked to a $24,098 wire transfer from one lab associate to JHB Medical Management, prosecutors said, The money benefited Burns and Patino.
The same month, $4,000 from Burns' bank account was wired to the bank account of an unnamed fighter. The money benefited a Triple-X Cagefighter, according to the government.
On Oct. 16, 2013, $3,000 from Burns' account was wired to another account for the benefit of the unnamed UFC champion and hall of famer sponsored by Patino, prosecutors said.
An unidentified Michigan boxer received $1,500 the same day from Burns' account. That fighter also was sponsored by Patino.
The same day, $1,000 was wired from Burns' account to a mixed martial arts management company's bank account. The money was payment for Patino's sponsorship of a prominent team of MMA fighters that served as "brand ambassadors" for the Patino Diet, prosecutors said.
The team is not identified. But a 2013 press release announced that the Patino Diet was named the official diet and nutrition consultant of Team Alpha Male and that Faber, and other fighters, would serve as brand ambassadors.
Faber founded Team Alpha Male, which is based out of his gym in Sacramento, California.
“Healthy diet and lifestyle has always been a core element of Team Alpha Male’s success,” Faber said in the press release. “Dr. Patino brings a wealth of knowledge in this area and we are stoked about this partnership.”
Faber, 39, known as “The California Kid,” spun a hall of fame fighting career into various ventures in the fitness, lifestyle brand, health food and non-profit industries. He also has acted in several films, including this year’s “Rampage.”
There was no immediate comment from Faber's spokesman Thursday.
According to a UFC spokesman, the organization has no ties to Patino and the company has not been contacted by investigators.