A dozen pharmacists. Four doctors. A psychologist and an accountant.
All are targeted in what the government dubbed Tuesday as one of the largest prescription drug scams in Michigan history, triggering criminal charges against 26 people accused of engaging in health care fraud at more than 20 pharmacies statewide.
According to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court, the defendants were part of a scheme that billed insurers for millions of dollars worth of bogus prescriptions for OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and cough syrup with codeine.
Doctors got kickbacks for writing the prescriptions, and so did patients, who agreed to let their insurers be billed for the drugs, the indictment said.
“These individuals abused their positions of trust and endangered the lives of countless people by illegally distributing more than 6 million doses of opiate painkillers and depressants throughout southeast Michigan and beyond,” said Robert Corso, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit Field Division.
The 34-count indictment alleges that Babubhai (Bob) Patel, 49, a Canton pharmacist, owned and controlled about 26 pharmacies statewide, but hid his ownership and control through the use of straw owners.
According to the indictment, Patel gave kickbacks, bribes and other inducements to doctors in exchange for them writing prescriptions and directing the patients to fill the prescriptions at one of Patel’s pharmacies, the indictment said. Patel and his pharmacists would then bill insurers for dispensing the medications, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Patel’s pharmacies billed Medicare at least $37.7 million during the scheme, and at least $20.8 million was billed to Medicaid.
In addition to Patel, those charged in the 34-count indictment are Dr. Paul Petre, 43, of Rochester Hills; pharmacist Dineshkmar Patel, 33, of Canton; pharmacist Anish Bhavsar, 35, of Canton; pharmacist Ashwini Sharma, 33, of Novi; pharmacist Brijesh Rawal of Wayne County; pharmacist Pinakeen Patel, 32, of Sterling Heights; pharmacist Kartik Shah, 34, of Canton; pharmacist Viral Thaker, 30, of Findlay, Ohio; pharmacist Hiren Patel, 31, of Novi; pharmacist Miteshkumar Patel, 37, of Troy; pharmacist Lokeh Tayal, 35, of Canton; pharmacist Narendera Cheraku, 33, of Farmington Hills; accountant Chetan Gujarathi, 38, of Canton; Arpitkumar Patel, 26, of Romulus; Sumanray Raval, 54, of Farmington Hills; Harpreet Sachdeva, 38, of Canton; Ramesh Patel, 50, of Canton; Rana Naeem, 60, of Rochester Hills; podiatrist Anmy Tran, 40, of Macomb; Dr. Mark Greenbain, 69, of Farmington Hills; Dr. Mustak Vaid, 38, of Brownstown Township; psychologist and patient recruiter Sanyani Edwards, 32, of Ferndale; Komal Acharya, 27, of Farmington Hills; patient recruiter Leodis Elliott, 41, of West Bloomfield, and patient recruiter LaVar Carter, 34, of Macomb.