COMMERCE TWP. (WWJ) – Five doctors and four pharmacists have been indicted in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to make the government pay for pricey and unnecessary prescriptions.
Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration say the doctors took kickbacks to write scripts for drugs including Xanax, OxyContin and codeine-laced cough syrup.
Those prescriptions were they billed to Medicaid and Medicare.
DEA and FBI agents on Tuesday raided two metro Detroit medical offices in connection with the case — one in Oakland and one in Macomb County.
At the Union Lake Medical Center on Union Lake Rd. in Commerce Township — the office of Dr. Rajat Daniel — agents were seen carrying out boxes of evidence.
A paper sign posted at the offices stated they were closed for the day and patients were turned away.
WWJ Newsradio 950’s Vickie Thomas spoke with patient Omar Tames who said Daniels has been his doctor for four decades.
“I just came in here to check on some medication that I’m supposed to be taking … and I know he’d give me sound advice,” said Tames. “So … I’m shocked that there is anything going on here — at all.”
Another second office, at 19 Mile Road and Hayes in Clinton Township, was also the subject of a raid on Tuesday.
Both raids are tied to the case of Canton pharmacy owner Babubhai ‘Bob” Patel, who was convicted last month of drug fraud involving millions of dollars and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
A superseding indictment unsealed on Monday charges thirteen people for their participation in what U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade called large-scale health care fraud and drug distribution scheme.
“Taxpayers fund Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care for needy citizens,” McQuade said, in a statement. “We hope that doctors and pharmacists will take note that if they exploit these programs for personal profit, they will face serious consequences.”
Of the twenty-six defendants originally charged in the indictment, six, including Babubhai Patel and four other pharmacists, were convicted at a trial last summer. Fifteen additional defendants, including six pharmacists and two doctors, have pleaded guilty in the case. The five remaining defendants had their charges renewed in the superseding indictment and face trial in June.
The thirteen new defendants named in the superseding indictment were pharmacist Mehul Patel, 34, of Canton; pharmacist Pradeep Pandya, 49, of Grand Blanc; pharmacist Vikas Sharma, 34, of Windsor; pharmacist Mukesh Khunt, 33, of Toronto; physicians Richard Utarnachitt, 71; of Clinton Township, physician Ruben Benito, 72; of Madison Heights, physician Javaid Bashir, 59, of Jackson, physician Carl Fowler, 60; of West Bloomfield, physician Rajat Daniel, 47; of West Bloomfield, home health agency owner Vinod Patel, 40; of Canton, business associate Atul Patel, 31, of Canton; marketer Anthony Macklin, a.k.a. “Jimbo,” of Detroit; and marketer Michael Thoran, a.k.a. “Ace,” also of Detroit.