The owner of a Michigan home health agency pleaded guilty today to fraud charges for his role in a scheme involving approximately $8 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for home health services that were procured through the payment of illegal kickbacks.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.
Zahir Shah, 48, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks in connection with Medicare beneficiaries before U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of the Eastern District of Michigan. Sentencing will be scheduled before Judge Cohn.
As part of his guilty plea, Shah admitted that he submitted false certifications to enroll and stay enrolled as a Medicare provider. Shah further admitted that he paid illegal kickbacks to recruiters in exchange for Medicare beneficiary referrals and billed Medicare for claims procured through these illegal kickbacks. According to court documents, Shah caused a loss of approximately $8 million to the Medicare program by submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare from 2007 through 2017.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. Trial Attorneys Rebecca Szucs and Howard Locker of the Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.