The chief executive officer of a Michigan and Ohio-based group of pain clinics and other medical providers was sentenced to 15 years in prison today for developing and approving a company policy to re-inject patients unnecessarily in exchange for prescriptions for over 6.6 million doses administering medically unnecessary opioids.
Mashiyat Rashid, 40, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, was the CEO of the Tri-County Wellness Group of medical providers in Michigan and Ohio. In addition to serving his sentence, Rashid was also ordered to pay Medicare more than $ 51 million in restitution and forfeit property to the United States that resulted from revenues from the healthcare fraud program, including over 11 commercial real estate, $ 5 million. Residential Properties and a Detroit Pistons Season Pass membership.
Rashid pleaded guilty in 2018 to a number of conspiracies to commit healthcare and cable fraud; and to a number of money laundering. 21 other defendants, including 12 doctors, have been convicted so far, including four doctors convicted after a month-long trial in 2020. Rashid is the second defendant to be convicted.
According to court records, Rashid was the CEO of the Tri-County Wellness Group from 2008 to 2016, where the clinics wanted to offer prescriptions of Oxycodone 30 mg to patients, some of whom were in legitimate pain and others were drug dealers or opioid addicts, but forced patients to undergo unnecessary re-injections in exchange for prescriptions.
The study found that in some cases, patients experienced more pain from the gunshots than from the pain they allegedly treated. that audible screams from patients were observed in all clinics; and that some patients developed adverse conditions including open holes in their backs. Patients, including opioid addicts, who told doctors they didn’t want, needed, or benefited from the injections were denied medication by the defendants and their co-conspirators until they agreed to submit to the expensive and unnecessary injections. The evidence also showed that the defendants repeatedly performed these unnecessary injections on patients, as Tri-County paid more for facet joint syringes than any other medical clinic in the United States.
The evidence at the trial showed that the Tri-County clinics made a point of making money through patient care. The tri-county clinics deliberately targeted the Medicare program, recruiting patients from homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The evidence at the trial showed that Rashid only hired doctors who were willing to disregard patient care when looking for money. Rashid motivated doctors to follow the Tri-County Protocol, offer opioid prescriptions, and give unnecessary injections by offering to split Medicare reimbursements for these lucrative procedures. The specific injections used had nothing to do with the medical needs of the patients but were selected for administration as they were the highest paying injection methods. A former Tri-County employee testified at the trial of Rashid’s co-defendants that the clinic’s practices were “barbaric.”
Deputy Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Department of Justice’s Department of Criminal Investigation; Acting US attorney Saima Shafiq Mohsin of the Eastern District of Michigan; Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the US Department of Health’s Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) in Chicago; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and the special agent in charge Manny Muriel of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit announced this.
HHS-OIG, FBI and IRS-CI conducted the investigation. Deputy Chief Jacob Foster of the National Rapid Response Strike Force and trial attorney Tom Tynan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Division were pursuing the case.
The fraud department heads the Health Care Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces in 24 districts, has indicted more than 4,200 defendants who billed the Medicare program a total of nearly $ 19 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are working with the HHS-OIG to take steps to increase accountability and reduce the presence of fraudulent providers.