Federal and Brooklyn prosecutors team up to tackle healthcare fraud

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced on Monday the creation of a Healthcare Fraud Division to crack down on doctors and pharmacists who commit Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
The new division will handle cases stemming from a new collaboration between the district attorney’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and New York City’s Human Resources Administration, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said at a press conference.
Assistant District Attorney Lauren Mack will serve as chief of the division, Hynes said.
He credited Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, for inspiring the collaboration and securing resources to fund it. He estimated that between 25 and 30 prosecutors from his office would help handle cases arising from the initiative. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said at the press conference that her office and Hynes’s office will both refer cases, share information and resources in
an effort to tackle the “persistent problem” of healthcare fraud, which she estimated to result in losses of $60 billion each year.
Recouping those losses is a growing area for the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. In February, the two agencies announced that they had recovered a record $4.2 billion in fiscal year 2012, up from $4.1 billion in 2011, according to an HHS press release.
The division announced its first case Monday against a Brooklyn doctor, Naveed Ahmad, who is charged with bilking roughly $500,000 from Medicare and Medicaid over three years. Prosecutors say that Ahmad submitted bills for bogus procedures and wrote prescriptions for pricey HIV drugs that were resold on the black market to HIV patients, or on the “gray” market to wholesalers who sold the drugs to pharmacies for a profit.
The division’s investigation into Ahmad is ongoing, Hynes said.
Ahmad faces an array of felony charges, including healthcare fraud and grand larceny, and up to 15 years in prison if convicted, Hynes said.
Ahmad has pleaded not guilty and denies the allegations, according to his lawyer, Wayne Bodden.

Source: Thomson Reuters