Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Louisiana Psychiatrist Sentenced to Serve More Than 7 Years in Prison for Role in Medicare Fraud Case Involving Partial Hospitalization Psychiatric Services

A Louisiana psychiatrist, Dr. Zahid Imran, was sentenced in federal court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 25, 2014 to serve 86 months in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud case involving partial hospitalization psychiatric services. 

The sentencing followed his guilty plea. He was further ordered to pay $43.5 million in restitution and to forfeit all proceeds from the fraudulent scheme. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian A. Jackson of the Middle District of Louisiana imposed the sentence and ordered Dr. Imran to self-surrender by September 29.

According to documents filed in the case, Zahid Imran, M.D., 56, of Baton Rouge, served as the medical director of Shifa Community Mental Health Center of Baton Rouge, and co-owned Serenity Center of Baton Rouge and Shifa Community Mental Health Center of Texas.   As part of the alleged fraud, Dr. Imran admitted mentally ill patients to the facilities, some of whom were inappropriate for partial hospitalization, and then re-certified the patients’ appropriateness for the program in an effort to continue to bill Medicare for services. 

To support the fraudulent Medicare billing, it was alleged that Dr. Imran and others allegedly falsified patient treatment records to reflect services on dates when no such services were provided. Dr. Imran pleaded guilty on May 13, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. There were allegations that the patients were brought in by buses from Memphis and other areas which is indicative of illegal marketing.

This was a wide-ranging prosecution that began with an investigation in 2011 into the three community mental health centers. This investigation has resulted in 17 convictions of individuals employed by the facilities, including therapists, marketers, administrators, owners and the medical director.  The companies billed Medicare for partial hospitalization program services for the mentally ill that were allegedly unnecessary or never provided over a period of approximately seven years. The companies, collectively, submitted more than $258 million in claims to Medicare during this period. Medicare paid approximately $43.5 million on those claims.

Attorney Commentary: The days where facilities could avoid fraud charges by seeing patients are over. Prosecutors are no longer afraid to tackle medical necessity. This is especially true in psychiatric cases where the people served are mentally ill, poor and not receptive to treatment. Add marketing and patients who travel for services and there are significant red flags for audits and investigations.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Phone: 213-233-2260
Green and Associates, Attorneys at Law


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