A New York doctor was sentenced today to 13 years in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud Medicare of millions of dollars. Syed Imran Ahmed, M.D. was convicted of health care fraud, making false statements and money laundering in July 2016. Ahmed practiced at medical centers in Brooklyn and Long Island.
Doctor Falsely Billed Medicare for Millions of Dollars
At the trial in July of 2016, the Department of Justice provided evidence that Ahmed billed Medicare for:
- incision-and-drainage procedures he did not perform;
- wound debridement procedures he did not perform; and
- surgeries that he claimed were performed in operating rooms, even though they were not.
Lists of surgeries and procedures were allegedly sent to a billing company in Michigan with instructions that they are billed to Medicare.
“The fraud scheme that Dr. Ahmed engaged in was motivated by pure greed,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott Lampert.
Dr. Ahmed practiced medicine at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn; Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream; and Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre.
At the trial, Ahmed was convicted of one count of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering, and three counts of making false statements regarding health care matters. United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry then sentenced Ahmed to 13 years in prison and ordered him to pay $7,266,008.95 in restitution and to forfeit $7,266,088.95. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
“Dr. Syed Ahmed treated Medicare like a personal piggy bank, stealing over $7.2 million by making fraudulent claims for medical procedures he never performed,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York. “Dr. Ahmed will now pay the price for violating the trust that Medicare places in doctors. His 13-year prison sentence and the heavy payments imposed should send a powerful message of deterrence to other medical professionals who would seek to defraud vital taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare for personal enrichment.”
Ahmed’s Conduct was “Most Serious” Case of New York Medicare Fraud Investigators Had Seen
In a 2014 statement regarding the criminal complaint for Ahmed’s New York Medicare fraud, investigators alleged that from January 2011 through mid-December 2013, Ahmed submitted claims to Medicare for at least $85 million and was reimbursed for at least seven million dollars. Officials accused him of stealing from Medicare to fund his lifestyle.
The complaint against Dr. Ahmed cited multiple instances in which his patients told investigators that they did not undergo the procedures Ahmed claimed to have performed. In other instances, hospital records did not contain evidence that Ahmed performed the procedures that were billed for.
Among the warrants issued during the investigation were seizure warrants for millions of dollars from seven bank accounts and a civil forfeiture against a $4 million New York residence.
“For a single physician, the alleged conduct, in this case, is among the most serious I’ve seen in my law enforcement career,” said Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General Thomas O’Donnell.
Among the false billings cited in the complaint were six procedures on a patient that had died 11 days before the surgeries would have occurred. Other examples include hundreds of procedures on patients who said they only met Ahmed one or two times. Ahmed also claimed to have performed 600 procedures on one woman.
According to reports, Ahmed’s false and fraudulent claims were discovered after a patient alerted authorities to a Medicare report that listed a variety of procedures that were not performed.
“Health care fraud is often billed as a victimless crime, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. “Someone has always left to foot the bill. Insurers, the insured, and others are the ones who pay the price.”
Whistleblowers – A Vital Resource in Fighting Medicare Fraud
Whistleblowers who alert authorities to health care fraud are vital to protecting the integrity of Medicare and Medicaid. This case, like many others, may never have been prosecuted without the help of a patient who saw something wrong and reported it. We encourage citizens who know of schemes to defraud the government to come forward so that the parties responsible for stealing taxpayer money can be brought to justice.