An Indian-American pharmacist has been sentenced to 17 years in prison by a
US court for a major healthcare fraud worth USD 57 million.
Babubhai (Bob) Patel, 50, who owned and operated 26 pharmacies across metro
Detroit, was sentenced in Michigan court, five months after a jury convicted him
of billing the government for more than USD 57 million for painkillers that were
medically unnecessary or never provided.
The government said he paid doctors to write the orders and had recruiters offer
cash to poor people in exchange for their Medicare or Medicaid number.
He was arrested on August 2, 2011.
In addition to 17 years of imprisonment, the court also ordered Patel to pay
restitution to the Medicaid and Medicare programs in the amount of USD 17.3
million, and restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield in the amount of USD 1.5
In sentencing the defendant, the court told the defendant that "what you have
done is reprehensible."
The criminal conduct engaged in by other health care fraud violators sentenced
by the court was "small scale compared to this."
According to evidence presented during a six-week jury trial concluding in
August 2012, Patel between 2006 and 2011, billed Medicare and Medicaid more than
USD 57 million.
At least 25 per cent of those billings were for drugs that were either medically
unnecessary never dispensed.
Additional amounts were fraudulently billed to private insurers such as Blue
Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
The pharmacies operated on a business model that paid kickbacks to physicians in
exchange for writing prescriptions for expensive medications, the Justice
The affiliated doctors would also write prescriptions for controlled substances,
without regard to medical necessity, which would be filled at the pharmacies and
distributed to paid "patients" and patient recruiters.
The expensive non-controlled medications would be billed but not dispensed.
Earlier this week, the US court sentenced an Indian Canadian (Brijesh Rawal) and
two Indian nationals – Ashwini Sharma and Lokesh Tayal -- to 68 months of
imprisonment for their participation as pharmacists in these criminal offenses.
They will be deported to their country of their citizenship upon the completion
of their sentences.