Babubhai “Bob” Patel, a 50-year-old Canton man who owned 26 pharmacies in the Detroit area, was sentenced on February 1 to 17 years in prison for what federal investigators called an “elaborate scheme” to defraud Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicaid, and Medicare. Patel was also ordered to pay restitution of $18.8 million.
News reports indicate that Patel was never released from custody after being arrested in August of 2011. Patel’s trial was approximately one year later; jurors found him guilty following the six-week trial, according to federal court records which indicated he was convicted of distributing controlled substances and conspiracy charges in addition to health care fraud.
It was found that between 2006 and 2011, the pharmacies owned by Patel billed more than $57 million to Medicaid and Medicare; an investigation by DEA, FBI and Health and Human Services agents allegedly revealed that at least 25% of the billings were for drugs which were never dispensed, or medically unnecessary. The U.S. Attorney’s office also claimed that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was billed for prescription drug transactions which were fraudulent.
Patel was ordered by U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow to pay $1.5 million to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and $17.3 million to Medicare and Medicaid. News reports state that paid patients, patient recruiters, pharmacists and doctors were involved in the network scheme, and that 25 other individuals have been charged by the federal government. Six of those 25 are scheduled for trial in June, and 19 have already pleaded guilty or been convicted.
Three pharmacists were also sentenced to 5 years, 8 months in prison by Tarnow last week, including Ashwini Sharma of Novi, Brijesh Rawal of Canton, and Lokesh Tayal of Northville. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, all three will be deported following their release from prison, as they were working under a visa program in the U.S. and were non-citizens.
Defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and other government run programs will lead to serious criminal penalties, as evidenced in this case. Michigan fraud defense attorneys are skilled in this area of the law, and will fight aggressively to minimize the damage to those accused of these types of crimes.
If you have been arrested for embezzlement, fraud, or any white-color crime, consult with a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer at once.