Warren physician gets prison for health care fraud

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A Warren physician was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday for writing prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled medications without medical justification and for health care fraud.

Hussein “Sam” Awada, brother of former Wayne County economic development chief Turkia Mullin, also was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to Blue Cross and Medicare and to pay the government $2.3 million.

“More people die from overdoses of prescription drugs in America than from overdoses of all other drugs combined. We hope that prosecuting the doctors who are putting these drugs on the streets will deter others from contributing to this epidemic,” U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement.

Awada, 46, of Royal Oak, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and health-care fraud charges in federal court in February.

Prosecutors allege Awada billed dead people, stashed $1 million cash in his house, sent money to Lebanon and pocketed up to $20,000 a month in kickbacks from a recruiter who found patients to receive prescriptions for pain medications, including Oxycodone.

They said from 2010 to 2012, Awada wrote prescriptions for 80,000 pills, including oxycodone, Roxicodone and other controlled medications, in the names of people, given by marketers, for no medical purpose.

The marketers then bought the pills from the “patients” and re-sold them to street dealers, prosecutors said. Awada then used the patient data for the patients brought to him by marketers to submit bills to Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield for services that were either never performed or were medically unjustified.

Awada caused these same patients to receive monthly X-rays and other invasive tests that were medically unnecessary but helped to conceal his fraud, prosecutors said.

Court records indicate the alleged prescription drug scheme was so profitable that Awada allegedly bragged he had stashed as much as $20 million, including more than $1 million cash at his Royal Oak home, and shipped money to Lebanon inside a storage container.