Trenton, New Jersey – On 15th September 2020, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced that two men from California confessed to taking part in a conspiracy to broker patients as part of a multiple-state patient plot in which one of them ordered recruiters to pay kickbacks to drug-addicted persons to register in medication rehabilitation and other remitted referral payments from his rehabilitation facility in trade for those patient referrals.
Kevin M. Dickau, age 32, from Tustin, California, and Dr. Akikur Mohammed, age 57, from West Hills, California, each admitted guilt via videoconference in front of U.S. District Peter G. Sheridan. Dickau admitted guilt to information indicting him with a single count of conspiracy to perpetrate health care fraud. Mohammed admitted guilt to information indicting him with a single count of conspiracy to breach the EKRA (Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery).
EKRA was sanctioned by Congress in October 2018 as part of a larger package of legislation meant for fighting the opioid epidemic, bans the remittance of kickbacks in return for the forwarding of patients to medication treatment centers. Mohammad’s ERKA sentencing was among the first such sentencing in the nation using the current indictment.
Three other persons had earlier admitted guilt for their participation in the plot. Peter Costas, of Red Bank, New Jersey, admitted guilt to conspiracy to perpetrate health care fraud in May 2020; John C. Devlin, from Baltimore, Maryland, and Seth Logan Welsh, from Forest Hill, Maryland, admitted guilt to a similar charge on 8th September 2020.
As per the affidavit filed in the proceeding and declarations made in court:
Welsh, Devlin, Dickau, and their accomplices possessed and ran a marketing enterprise in California. Welsh, Devlin, and Dickau utilized the marketing enterprises to help arrange a plot in New Jersey, Maryland, California, and various states that involved paying kickbacks to persons addicted to heroin and other medication to enroll into drug rehabilitation facilities so that Welsh, Devlin, Dickau, and their accomplices could get referral payment from those centers. One center in California that remitted for such referral payments was possessed and managed by Mohammad.
The marketing enterprise managed by Welsh, Devlin, and Dickau maintained contractual agreements with drug rehabilitation centers all over the country, such as the one managed by Mohammad. The marketing enterprise also participated in a countrywide network of recruiters- such as Costas in New Jersey- to pinpoint and recruit possible clients, from New Jersey and various states, who had strong personal health insurance coverage and were addicted to heroin and other substances.
To persuade drug-addicted persons to journey to and register in treatment centers when they would not have otherwise enrolled- Costas and his accomplices paid kickbacks to the patients- frequently as much as a few thousand USDs- with the authorization of Welsh, Devlin, and Dickau. Once the patients accepted to register in drug treatment centers in trade for the provided kickbacks, Welsh, Devlin, Costas, and Dickau would organize to remit for cross-nation transport to the drug rehabilitation facilities in California and various states, together with the proprietors of the centers themselves, such as Mohammad. Costas would contact the patients in New Jersey at the centers and specifically direct them to stay in the centers long enough to create referral remittances, and he would relay that info to Welsh, Devlin, and Dickau about the patients’ condition at the centers. Welsh, Devlin, and Dickau would observe the other patients they brokered by addressing other scouts or the possessors and workers of the drug rehabilitation centers themselves.
Mohammad’s drug rehabilitation center had an agreement with the marketing enterprise. Mohammad’s center and other centers normally remitted payment of 5000 USD to 10,000 USD for each patient referral to the marketing enterprise. Welsh, Devlin, Dickau, and their accomplices shared the money among themselves. Costas and other scouts collected nearly half the total amount for each patient they recruited. Welsh, Devlin, Dickau, and their accomplices recruited scores of patients to drug rehabilitation centers all over the country, as well as the one managed by Mohammad, and the scheme resulted in millions of USDs of losses to medical insurers.
For instance, on 24th January 2019, Mohammad, Dickau, and Welsh had a text message discussion in which Dickau relayed a patient’s health insurance and biographical info to Mohammad to ascertain if Mohammad would admit the patient at his drug rehabilitation center. After determining that the patient had enough health insurance plan, Mohammad received the patient for admission to his drug rehabilitation center. The patient was admitted to Mohammad’s drug rehabilitation center soon after, and Mohammad charged a commercial insurance enterprise more than 70,000 USD for alleged services provided to the patient. The next month, Mohammad remitted the marketing enterprise a referral fee of 5,000 USD for recruiting the patient.
In a phone discussion on 14th March 2019, Welsh and Mohammad talked about kickbacks for the recruitment of two patients admitted to Mohammad’s drug rehabilitation center. During the conversation, Welsh and Mohammad talked about how long every patient visited Mohammad’s drug rehabilitation center, and they concurred that Mohammad would remit Welsh and Dickau a kickback for the recruited patients. On the same day, Mohammed issued a check of 10,000 USD to the marketing enterprise.
Dickau would face a maximum possible punishment of ten years in federal prison and a fine of 250,000 USD or double the total profit or loss from the crime. Mohammad would face a maximum possible punishment of 5 years in federal prison and a fine of 250,000 USD or double the total profit or loss from the cime. The conviction for both suspects was set for 20th January 2021.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito commended the efforts of the FBI’s special agents, under the supervision of Special Agent-in-Charge George M. Crouch in Newark, with the investigation leading to the guilt admission. He further commended the District Attorney’s Office in Orange County, California, and the FBI, under the supervision of Acting Assistant Director in Charge in Los Angeles, California, John F. Bennett.
Senior Trial Counsel of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark, Jason S. Gould, stood in for the government in the case.
Breaching the False Claim Statute, the Anti-Kickback Act, and the Controlled Substance Act is severely punished by the law. Additionally, scheming to execute health care fraud such as defrauding taxpayer-funded health care programs, including TRICARE, Medicaid, or Medicare programs, is a severe crime. Any person who commits these crimes breaks the law and is severely penalized if found guilty of the accusations. Once charged with these offenses, you should seek the best legal advice or representation to safeguard and pursue your rights. Hire our qualified team of top-rated defense and criminal attorneys if you want the best legal representation and assistance, which will result in achieving positive results for your matter. At Health Care Fraud Group, we have an experienced team of lawyers with tremendous experience in handling Health Care Fraud related cases related to the Federal Health Care Program; they are highly knowledgeable about civil and federal issues. The defense lawyers are well recognized across the U.S. due to their excellent and outstanding work and professionalism when handling health care fraud cases and inquiries. Our lawyers are well-equipped with previous knowledge of each aspect of Health Care fraud defense, medical, and legal issues.
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