A federal jury in Houston today convicted two owners of a former Houston mental health care company, Spectrum Care P.A. (Spectrum), several of its employees and the owners of certain Houston group care homes for their participation in a $97 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS’s Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), Special Agent in Charge Joseph J. Del Favero of the Chicago Field Office of the Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG) and Special Agent in Charge Scott Rezendes of Field Operations of the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General (OPM-OIG) made the announcement following a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore in the Southern District of Texas.
Physicians Mansour Sanjar, 81, and Cyrus Sajadi, 66, the owners of Spectrum, were each convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay kickbacks as well as related counts of health care fraud and paying illegal kickbacks. Adam Main, 33, a physician’s assistant, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and related counts of health care fraud. Shokoufeh Hakimi, 66, administrator of Spectrum, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay kickbacks and a related count of paying an illegal kickback. Chandra Nunn, 35, a group home owner, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and related counts of receiving illegal kickbacks. Sharonda Holmes, 40, a patient recruiter, was convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and a related count of receiving an illegal kickback. Shawn Manney, 51, a group home owner, was convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks.
According to evidence presented at trial, Sanjar and Sajadi orchestrated and executed a scheme to defraud Medicare beginning in 2006 and continuing until their arrest in December 2011. Sanjar and Sajadi owned Spectrum, which purportedly provided partial hospitalization program (PHP) services. A PHP is a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness. The Medicare beneficiaries for whom Spectrum billed Medicare for PHP services did not qualify for or need PHP services. Sanjar, Sajadi, Main and Moore signed admission documents and progress notes certifying that patients qualified for PHP services, when in fact, the patients did not qualify for or need PHP services. Sanjar and Sajadi also billed Medicare for PHP services when the beneficiaries were actually watching movies, coloring and playing games–activities that are not covered by Medicare.
Evidence presented at trial showed that Sanjar, Sajadi and Hakimi paid kickbacks to Nunn, Holmes, Manney and other group care home operators and patient recruiters in exchange for delivering ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to Spectrum. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. According to evidence presented at trial, Spectrum billed Medicare for approximately $97 million in services that were not medically necessary and, in some cases, werenot provided.
Sanjar, Sajadi and Nunn are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8, 2014. Main, Hakimi, Holmes and Manney are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2014.
The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, Texas MFCU, RRB-OIG and OPM-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Laura M.K. Cordova and Trial Attorneys Jonathan T. Baum and William S.W. Chang of the Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.