The U.S. Justice Department is calling an opioid prescription drug and health care fraud scheme the largest operation of its kind in United States history, and part of it is centered in Metro Detroit.
Officials have made 412 arrests nationwide, including 56 doctors and targeting 200 clinics. The Justice Department said those arrested are responsible for $1.3 billion in fraudulent transactions.
One of those arrested is a Bangladesh immigrant Mashiyat Rashid, who defruaded $132 million from Medicare while serving as a healthcare executive. He was the ringleader.
He spent money on the trite to the extravagant, from courtside NBA seats to a $7 million mansion.
The 37-year old is one of the many.who conspired to steal money from the aged and the handicapped. In his case, he recruited homeless people as patients, mailing in phony bills to Medicare. He even subjected drug addicts to back injections and pain medications they didn’t need. The people in turn sold the drugs on the street during an opioid epidemic.
At one point, he was walking around with $500,000 in a duffel bag and had tons of cash in a storage unit.
“This was a crime of deceit. His fraud was brazen,” Justice Department trial attorney Jacob Foster said Wednesday during Rashid’s bond hearing. “This was about the thousands and thousands of beneficiaries who were taken advantage of in order for (Rashid) to line his pockets.”
He has been in the country since age 3.
The conspiracy dates to 2008, and involved six others and a web of companies controlled by Rashid, prosecutors allege. The companies included Tri-County Physicians and National Laboratories, which have offices at Detroit’s iconic Fisher Building. FBI agents raided the building Wednesday, among other locations.
Tri-County was suspended last year for giving patients unnecessary injections 100% of the time.
The suspension didn’t stop Rashid, he created more fraudulent companies.
Rashid is not a doctor, but several doctors were named in the case: Joseph Betro, Spilios Pappas, Abdul Haq, Tariz Omar and Mohammad Zahoor.
The six Michigan defendants are:
- Mashiyat Rashid, of Oakland County – controlled, owned or operated Global Quality, Aqua Therapy, Tri-County Physicians, Tri-State Physicians, New Center Medical, National Laboratories, and Tri-County Wellness;
- Yasser Mozeb, of Oakland County – allegedly received payments from Global Quality and Tri-County Wellness;
- Abdul Haq, of Washtenaw County, physician enrolled as a participating provider with Medicare for Aqua Therapy, Tri-County Physicians and Tri-State Physicians;
- Joseph Betro, of Oakland County, physician enrolled as a participating provider with Medicare for Tri-County Physicians and New Center Medical;
- Tariz Omar, of Oakland County, physician enrolled as a participating provider with Medicare for Tri-County Physicians.
- Mohammed Zahoor, of Oakland County, physician enrolled as a participating provider with Medicare for Tri-County Physicians.
The ringleader, Mashiyat Rashid, is facing life in prison.