Federal prosecutors used to devote healthcare fraud resources to mainly government programs and allow private insurance carriers to handle the cases with special investigation units or with state prosecutions. A recent case shows how private insurance healthcare fraud is being pursued forcefully. This is in large part due to the overlap between private and public and the fact that the federal government pays subsidies for tens of millions of people who have private insurance.
The recent case was one of ghost billing. On March 28, 2017, Michael Huynh, the office manager and purported part-owner of a Los Angeles area medical clinic in Reseda was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for his role in billing private insurance plans for prescription medication that was never dispensed to insured patients and failing to report such income on his federal income tax returns. Following a seven-day trial in September 2016, Mr. Huynh was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and 11 counts of filing false tax returns.
Mr. Huynh, age 67, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II. In addition to the prison term, Judge Wright ordered Mr. Huynh to pay just over $1.9 million in restitution to the victim insurance companies and back taxes – estimated to be nearly $950,000 – to the Internal Revenue Service.
The evidence introduced at trial showed that between January 2004 and November 2009 Mr. Huynh and a pharmacist (Farhad N. Dany Sharim, a co-owner of Century Discount Pharmacy in Reseda) participated in a healthcare fraud scheme that billed private insurance plans for prescription medication that was never dispensed to insured patients. Mr. Sharim, age 57, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and will be sentenced by Judge Wright on May 1.
The evidence at trial was that Mr. Huyhn provided Mr. Sharim with fabricated prescriptions purportedly for patients of the medial clinic who were insured by healthcare benefit programs. Mr. Sharim's pharmacy then submitted false and fraudulent bills for prescription drugs that had not been dispensed to the patients and received substantial payments from various health care benefit programs to which it was not entitled. Mr. Sharim allegedly paid Mr. Huyhn and/or the medical clinic more than $1.1 million.
In addition to the healthcare fraud scheme, Mr. Huynh was charged with filing false federal tax returns for tax years 2007 through 2011 that underreported the medical clinic’s gross receipts and sales by more than $1.6 million.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.