Political Donors Plead Guilty in $33 Million Medicare Fraud

Five major political donors pleaded guilty for their roles in a $33 million Medicare fraud scheme that involved home health and hospice companies in the Detroit area, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

The group included two physicians and three owners of Detroit-based home and hospice care companies, including A Plus Hospice and Palliative Care, At Home Hospice and At Home Network Inc. The three owners were identified as Muhammad Tariq, Shadid Tahir and Manawar Javed. The owners were charged for Medicare fraud for alleging paying kickbacks, bribes and other inducements to physicians for beneficiary referrals, according to the DOJ.

Physicians Wasseem Alam, of Troy, Michigan, and Hatem Ataya, of Flushing, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud for receiving kickbacks in exchange for referrals.

The initial charges were made as part of the largest national Medicare fraud takedown by authorities that was conducted in June 2015. In total, authorities charged 243 individuals—including 46 doctors , nurses and other licensed medical professional—for their alleged roles in approximately $712 million in false Medicare billings, the Department reported. Sixteen Detroit area health care professionals were charged in the takedown.

All five of the individuals who pleaded guilty for health care fraud have contributed a combined value of more than $42,000 to Democratic and Republican politicians, public records reveal.

Authorities hoped to use the case as an example for future criminals and marked a major crackdown by authorities on Medicare fraud in Michigan.

“Health care fraud has been pervasive throughout metro-Detroit in recent years, at great cost to the American taxpayer,” Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in last June following the massive takedown. “We hope cases like these will alert doctors, pharmacists and other providers that criminal investigators are no scrutinizing billing records so that we can detect fraud and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Written by Amy Baxter

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include campaign contribution amounts reflecting contributions made to both Republican and Democratic politicians.