21 March 2013

Feds raid Oakland, Macomb medical offices, charge 13

Article originally appeared on the Detroit News.

Detroit — Thirteen people, including several doctors and pharmacists, were named in a federal indictment Tuesday, charging them with a drug scheme and health-care fraud.

The 21-count indictment is the latest set of charges stemming from a 2011 large-scale drug fraud case involving Canton Township pharmacy owner Babubhai "Bob" Patel. Patel was sentenced in February to 17 years in prison for drug fraud worth millions, a sweeping scheme that was mostly hatched in Indian languages and involved more than 20 pharmacies.

The indictment was unsealed in federal court Tuesday hours after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided two medical offices in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Patel allegedly paid kickbacks and bribes to doctors who wrote bogus prescriptions and billed Medicare and Medicaid for various services. The prescriptions were filled at Patel's 26 pharmacies across the state, according to the indictment.
"We hope that doctors and pharmacists will take note that if they exploit these programs for personal profit, they will face serious consequences," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.

Multiple DEA agents were spotted at approximately 9 a.m. at Dr. Rajat Daniel's office at 1990 Union Lake in Commerce Township.

A second team of agents raided Dr. Richard Utarnachitt's medical office at 15945 19 Mile in Clinton Township.
Both doctors were named in the indictment Tuesday.

Daniel could not be reached immediately for comment. His office phone went directly into voicemail.
"It is alleged that these individuals abused their positions of trust and endangered the lives of countless people by illegally distributing opiate painkillers and depressants throughout southeast Michigan," said Robert L. Corso, special agent in charge of the DEA's Detroit office.

In the Patel case, he was accused of billing insurers for expensive prescriptions he never intended to give to customers. The government said he paid doctors to write the orders and also sent people to soup kitchens and homeless shelters to offer others cash in exchange for their Medicare or Medicaid number.

Patel was ordered to pay nearly $20 million in restitution as part of his sentence, along with the 17-year prison term.
Patel, a pharmacist, has deep ties to the local Indian community and was vice chairman of the Canton Hindu temple.
Five others were convicted alongside Patel following a trial last summer. Fifteen others pled guilty.

Also charged Tuesday:

Mehul Patel, 34, a pharmacist from Canton.

Pradeep Pandya, 49, a pharmacist from Grand Blanc.

Vikas Sharma, 34, a pharmacist from Windsor.

Mukesh Khunt, 33, a pharmacist from Toronto.

Utarnachitt, 71, of Clinton Township

Ruben Benito, 72, a physician from Madison Heights.

Carl Fowler, 60, a physician from West Bloomfield Township.

Javaid Bashir, 59, a physician from Jackson.

Daniel, 47, of West Bloomfield.

Vinod Patel, 40, a home health agency owner from Canton.

Atul Patel, 31, of Canton.

Anthony Macklin, a marketer from Detroit.

Michael Thoran, a marketer from Detroit.

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