JULY 10 (DETROIT) –A podiatrist, psychologist and a pharmacist were convicted today in federal court in Detroit, Michigan on multiple counts of an Indictment charging them with conspiracy, health care fraud, and controlled substance distribution, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Lamont Pugh, III, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General ("HHS-OIG").
Convicted were podiatrist Anmy Tran, 42, of Clinton Township, psychologist Sanyani Edwards, 34, of Southfield, and pharmacist Mitesh Patel, 39, of Troy. Defendants Tran and Edwards were convicted on all three of the counts with which they were charged, specifically conspiracies to commit health care fraud, to distribute controlled substances, and to pay or receive health care kickbacks. Defendant Patel was convicted of six of the seven counts with which he was charged, specifically health care fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and two substantive counts each of health care fraud and controlled substances distribution. Defendant Mitesh Patel was acquitted of conspiracy to pay or receive health care kickbacks.
The evidence presented in the course of the three-week trial demonstrated that, from approximately January 2006 through August 2011, Canton Pharmacist Babubhai Patel owned and controlled over 20 pharmacies (termed “the Patel Pharmacies” at trial), which operated in and around Detroit, Michigan. The evidence also showed that Babubhai Patel’s model for turning a profit at his pharmacies was based upon large-scale health care fraud and the diversion of controlled substances. Babubhai Patel paid cash kickbacks and other forms of illegal remuneration to physicians in exchange for those physicians writing prescriptions for expensive medications, without regard to medical necessity, that could be billed to Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurer through one of the Patel Pharmacies. Physicians affiliated with Babubhai Patel would also write prescriptions for controlled substances for their patients, again regardless of medical necessity, which would then be filled at one of the Patel Pharmacies. These controlled substances were distributed to patients and patient recruiters as a kickback in exchange for the patients using a Patel Pharmacy. Pharmacists at the Patel Pharmacies would increase the pharmacies’ profits by billing insurers for medications never actually distributed to patients.
The evidence presented at trial showed that defendant Anmy Tran was one of the physicians to whom Babubhai Patel paid bribes and kickbacks in exchange for referrals of prescriptions. In exchange, Tran wrote numerous prescriptions for expensive medications, without regard to medical necessity, that could be filled at one of the Patel Pharmacies. Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that defendant Mitesh Patel, a pharmacist in Babubhai Patel’s organization, billed Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers for expensive medications he never dispensed to patients. With respect to Sanyani Edwards, the evidence presented at trial showed that he offered and paid bribes and kickbacks to doctors, nurses, and assisted-living facility owners in exchange for referrals of prescriptions to the Patel Pharmacies. Edwards also worked with a corrupt psychiatrist to write fictitious prescriptions for patients, which could then be billed at a Patel Pharmacy.
Defendants Tran, Edwards, and Mitesh Patel were three of twenty-six individuals who were charged in August, 2011, with offenses relating to their involvement with Babubhai Patel’s pharmacy network. The three defendants convicted today were the last of the 26 originally charged with their cases pending. All 26 of the original defendants have now been convicted of felonies arising out of their involvement with Babubhai Patel; 17 of those defendants entered guilty pleas, and nine, including the three defendants today, have been convicted after trial. Defendant Babubhai Patel was convicted at a trial in August 2012; he is presently serving a 17-year prison sentence. A superseding indictment charging 13 additional individuals was unsealed in March 2013; those defendants’ cases remain pending, with a trial date set for January 2014.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John K. Neal and Wayne F. Pratt.