Jailed doctor wants to make Bloomfield Twp. mansion a high-tech prison
Detroit — A Bloomfield Township doctor offered to turn his $1.4 million mansion into a high-tech prison with infrared cameras and motion detectors and bunk with retired FBI agents if a judge releases him on bond while awaiting trial in one of the country's largest opioid fraud cases.
The request, filed Wednesday in federal court, is the latest bid for bond by Dr. Rajendra Bothra, 77, the accused mastermind of a nearly $500 million scheme based at a Warren pain clinic. The clinic had armed guards and standing orders for patients to undergo unnecessary back injections in exchange for pain pills, according to the government.
Bothra, an acclaimed surgeon, humanitarian and politician who received the highest civilian honor bestowed in India, known as the Padmashri, has been jailed for eight months. He is scheduled to stand trial in January alongside five doctors who worked at his clinic, Pain Center USA.
Prosecutors want him to stay in prison and have called Bothra a flight risk involved in a dangerous drug scheme who has stashed money overseas and lied about family ties in India. He was poised to be released on a $7 million bond — one of the largest issued by a federal judge in U.S. history — until prosecutors won an appeal in March.
Prosecutors noted that more than a dozen doctors and other medical professionals charged with federal crimes locally have fled the country in recent years amid a federal crackdown on illegal opioid use and health care fraud.
On Wednesday, Bothra proposed hiring LSS Consulting, a Commerce Township firm staffed with retired FBI and Secret Service agents. The firm would provide constant surveillance and provide a tracking device and GPS tether for Bothra.
"Further, LSS Consulting would place motion detectors at all outside doors and windows of the residence, along with four infrared cameras that immediately transmit Dr. Bothra's whereabouts to a command center located in the residence," Bothra's lawyer David Griem wrote in a court filing Wednesday.
The firm also would have two retired federal agents live in Bothra's 4,000-square-foot home on Gilbert Lake, which features four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms.
Rajendra Bothra's home in Bloomfield Township overlooking Gilbert Lake.
"I don't think he could outrun us," LSS Consulting owner Ned Timmons told The Detroit News. "I think we can catch a 77-year-old doctor that’s in ill health."
The Bothra proposal is unique for Timmons and his firm, which has provided security for individuals and the Ambassador Bridge since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"We've protected people but never provided a mobile jail, so to speak," Timmons said Wednesday.
Bothra would pay for the company's services by tapping an $8.5 million retirement account, according to his lawyer. The money, which was earned prior to the alleged fraud, would finance a $1 million bond.
The firm is licensed and insured but Bothra's lawyers emphasized that U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy is free to select another security company.
Bothra is worth as much as $35 million. FBI agents seized at least $17.2 million from bank accounts linked to Bothra and his family, according to a forfeiture notice filed in federal court. Bothra could lose the money if he is convicted of crimes.
He also has vast real estate holdings, including condominiums in downtown Royal Oak and a $2 million island estate in Waterford Township.
Federal agents have seized at least $25.9 million from doctors indicted in the criminal case, relatives and the pain clinics. Click on the bubbles to find out how much agents seized and whose bank accounts were searched by the FBI. (Map: Robert Snell / The Detroit News)
The court filing provided insight into Bothra's incarceration at the federal prison in Milan.
Bothra is not dangerous, his lawyer said, citing ongoing health problems.
While imprisoned, Bothra fell and was hospitalized with a concussion and broken nose, his lawyer said.
The fall knocked out one of his two front teeth.
"The loss of the tooth has made it impossible for Dr. Bothra to speak clearly and he will be testifying at his trial," Griem wrote.
Defense lawyers also want Bothra freed so he can help prepare for trial.
The trial will focus on allegations involving Bothra's pain clinic in Macomb County that, if proven, offer a glimpse inside what investigators call one of the largest health care fraud cases in U.S. history.
Bothra and five other doctors all have had not-guilty pleas entered on their behalf.
Clinic doctors prescribed more than 13 million doses of opioids and billed medical insurers almost $500 million since January 2013, according to the grand jury indictment filed in December.
In a court filing that sought permission to search one clinic in Warren, an FBI agent described a scheme involving pain pills and doctors billing insurance programs for unnecessary medical services. The services included back injections, sometimes performed by unskilled staff who jabbed patients with needles while hunting for the correct injection site, the FBI agent wrote.
The injections and pills led to big bills.
Since 2013, the doctors billed more than $182.5 million to Medicare, $272.6 million to Medicaid and $9.2 million to Blue Cross Blue Shield for services and equipment that were medically unnecessary, ineligible for reimbursement or not provided, according to the indictment.
Nobody charged in the case prescribed more drugs than Dr. Eric Backos, one of the five doctors charged along with Bothra, according to the FBI.
The Bloomfield Township doctor prescribed more than 5.9 million pills from 2013 to 2018, according to the FBI. More than 86% of the drugs belong to a category that includes fentanyl and oxycodone.
In a 14-month period, three patients received prescriptions from Backos and died after leaving the clinic and overdosing, according to the FBI.