A Detroit-area home health agency owner has been sentenced to serve six years in prison for his role in a $13.8 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Zahir Yousafzai, 44, was sentenced May 22 by U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen in the eastern district of Michigan.
In addition to his prison term, Yousafzai was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $4.1 million in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs.
Yousafzai pleaded guilty before the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan on May 6. Yousafzai and 11 others were arrested for their alleged roles in the Medicare fraud scheme in 2011.
In the fraud scheme, Yousafzai and co-conspirators acquired ownership of home health companies First Care Home Health Care LLC and Moonlite Home Care Inc. in 2009. Yousafzai also assisted in operating two other home health agencies, Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC and Quantum Home Care Inc. He admitted the home health agencies billed Medicare for visits that never took place, totaling $13.8 million between July 2008 and September 2011, according to the court statements.
Also according to court records, Yousafzai, a physical therapist assistant, paid and directed the payment of various medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and physical therapist assistants, to create fictitious patient files to document purported home health services that were never provided.
In addition, according to court records, Yousafzai paid and directed the payment of kickbacks to recruiters who obtained beneficiaries’ Medicare information that he used to submit claims for home health care that was never provided. The beneficiaries sometimes pre-signed forms that were later falsified to indicate they received home health services, when they did not. In other instances, the beneficiaries’ signatures were forged. Yousafzai signed patient files falsely stating that physical therapy services were provided.
Additionally, according to court records, Yousafzai incorporated a shell company known as A-1 Nursing and Rehab Inc., through which he laundered the proceeds of the health care fraud.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged almost 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.
Written by Cassandra Dowell