Mich. health-care CEO pleads guilty in $300M fraud scheme

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Metro Detroit health care CEO pleaded guilty Monday in an investigation into a $300 million scheme to distribute 6.6 million doses of controlled substances, federal authorities said.

Mashiyat Rashid, who led Tri-County Wellness Group, as well as owned, controlled and operated numerous pain clinics, laboratories and other providers in Michigan and Ohio, pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks to obtain patients, soliciting bribes for physicians to refer Medicare beneficiaries and committing money laundering in connection with a $6.6 million wire transfer in 2016.

Mashiyat Rashid

The 38-year-old also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering. In connection with his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit$51,396,917.70, as well as turn over $11.5 million in real estate and a Detroit Pistons season ticket membership. 

His sentencing is scheduled for April 11.

“…While people were suffering, this corporate executive lived in luxury funded by ill-gotten gains,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Monday. “Today’s guilty plea helps us bring the defendant to justice and reduce the supply of illegal drugs flowing into our communities.”

Rashid and others were charged in federal court last year in what prosecutors described as among the largest conspiracies in Detroit history.

A superseding indictment alleges that from 2008 until their arrest in 2017, Rashid and physicians working in his clinics “conspired to obtain patients by prescribing more than 4.2 million dosage units of medically unnecessary controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and oxymorphone, to Medicare beneficiaries, some of whom were addicted to narcotics. Some of these opioids were allegedly resold on the street.”

The West Bloomfield Township resident also admitted that to earn more revenue, he conspired with physicians to require Medicare beneficiaries, including those addicted to opioids, to submit to expensive, medically unnecessary injections in exchange for pills, federal officials said Monday.

To hide the continued billing of the fraudulent claims, Rashid and others created new shell companies, investigators said.

“Health-care fraud diverts taxpayer dollars from Medicare and lines the pockets of dishonest health-care providers,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “This case is particularly troubling in that Rashid, through his clinics, made Michigan’s opioid crisis even worse by prescribing over 6 million dosages of medically unnecessary opioids to individuals who were already suffering from opioid addiction."

Rashid is accused of using the proceeds to live lavishly — spending millions of dollars on a mansion; luxury clothes; rare Richard Mille watches; exotic cars, including a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce Ghost; and court side seats at NBA basketball games.

“Health-care fraud schemes such as these threaten the vital trust between a patient and his or her health-care provider, undermine the integrity of our health-care system, and cost all Americans billions of dollars,” said Timothy Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “Americans already struggling with health-care issues and rising premiums are further burdened with each dollar lost to fraud.”

Four others have also been charged with health-care fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud: Spilios Pappas, 61, of Monclova, Ohio; Mohammed Zahoor, 51, of Novi; Joseph Betro, 57, of Novi; and Tariq Omar, 61, of West Bloomfield Township. 

Rashid and the four previously were charged in the original indictment, along with Michigan residents Yasser Mozeb, 35, and Abdul Haq, 72, who have pleaded guilty.