July 13, 2017
Contact: SA Timothy Desmond
Phone Number: 617-557-2100
Norwalk Doctors Charged With Operating “Pill Mill,” Health Care Fraud And Money Laundering
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Michael J. Ferguson Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New England Division and Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that two doctors who have operated a medical practice in Norwalk have been charged by federal criminal complaint with writing prescriptions outside the scope of legitimate medical practice, health care fraud and money laundering.
Dr. Bharat Patel, 70, of Milford, was arrested yesterday at his residence. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport and is detained pending a detention hearing that is scheduled for July 17. Dr. Ramil Mansourov, 47, of Darien, is currently being sought by law enforcement.
As alleged in the criminal complaint, Patel and Mansourov are physicians who operated out of Family Health Urgent Care, located at 235 Main Street in Norwalk. The medical practice was formerly known as Immediate Health Care, which was owned by Patel. In approximately 2012, Mansourov purchased the practice from Patel and renamed it Family Urgent Health Care, and Patel continued to work at the practice. Patel and Mansourov are participating providers with Medicare and the Connecticut Medicaid Program. Beginning in approximately 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration received information that Patel and Mansourov may be writing prescriptions for controlled substances outside the scope of legitimate medical practice.
The complaint alleges that Patel regularly provided prescriptions for narcotics, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, to patients that he knew were addicted or had been arrested for distributing or possessing controlled substances. On numerous occasions, Patel provided prescriptions to patients who paid him $100 in cash for each prescription. In certain instances, Patel would write prescriptions for individuals who were not his patients in exchange for cash. At times, when Patel was not available, Mansourov provided Patel’s patients with unnecessary prescriptions. Patel and Mansourov also regularly provided post-dated prescriptions to individuals, sometimes with dates that matched future dates when the doctors would be out of the country.
It is alleged that certain individuals who paid Patel cash for prescriptions paid for the filled prescriptions by using a state Medicaid card, and then illegally distributed the drugs. The investigation revealed that in 2014 alone, more than $50,000 in cash deposits were made into Patel and his wife’s bank accounts, and that some of these funds were used to purchase Patel’s current residence.
The complaint further alleges that between November 2013 and December 2016, Mansourov defrauded the state’s Medicaid program of more than $4 million by billing for home visits that he never made, billing for nursing home visits that he never made, billing for office visits that never happened, and billing for visits that he claimed took place on dates on which he was actually out of state or out of the country. Billing records also reveal that, on some occasions, Mansourov and Patel billed Medicaid for the same patient on the same day at two different locations.
It is alleged that Mansourov moved some of the stolen funds to a bank account in Switzerland.
“The DEA is committed to enforcing the Controlled Substance (CSA) by ensuring that all registrants are in compliance and abide by DEA’s distribution regulations,” said Special Agent in Charge Ferguson. “The reckless actions by these two doctors by writing prescriptions outside the scope of their legitimate medical practice contributed to the widespread abuse of opiates, which is a gateway to heroin addiction and is devastating our communities. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic DEA is committed to improve public safety and public health by working with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure these rules and regulations are strictly followed. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement in Connecticut and our great partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
“These two doctors are charged with violating their oaths and recklessly prescribing highly addictive painkillers,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Dr. Patel is alleged to have regularly sold to addicts solely for his own profit. Many of these patients filled the prescriptions using state healthcare benefits, and then turned around and sold the pills on the street, contributing to our devastating opioid epidemic. Some addicts referred to these defendants’ medical practice as ‘The Candy Shop.’ Dr. Mansourov is also charged with bilking state and federal governments of over 4 million dollars through a phony billing scheme. I thank the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the Norwalk Police Department and the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office for their excellent work in shuttering this medical practice.”
The complaint charges Patel and Mansourov with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years; health care fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
This investigation is being conducted by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the Norwalk Police Department, with the critical assistance of the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad includes officers from the Bristol, Greenwich, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Shelton, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.