Suspended Physician Sentenced to More Than One Year for Illegally Dispensing Oxycodone and Falsely Billing Medicare in Undercover Probe
CHICAGO—A suburban physician whose medical license was suspended was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for health care fraud and illegally prescribing controlled substance medications. The defendant, SATHISH NARAYANAPPA BABU, who owned Anik Life Sciences Medical Corp., pled guilty in September 2014 to illegally prescribing oxycodone and other controlled substances, and fraudulently billing Medicare approximately $500,000, and fraudulently collecting approximately $216,000, for services he did not provide. Babu, 48, of Bolingbrook, operated Anik Life Sciences, a home-visiting physician’s office, in Darien and, previously, in Arlington Heights.
U.S. District Court Judge John J. Tharp also imposed a term of three years of supervised release and a restitution amount of $221,012. Babu agreed to forfeit the approximately $126,000, which was seized at the time of his arrest and will be credited toward the restitution ordered. Also forfeited were three automobiles ― a 2013 BMW, a 2001 BMW, and a 2010 Lexus. Babu was ordered to begin serving his sentence on May 13, 2015.
“This crime wasn’t an isolated act, it was a calculated, systematic effort to milk Medicare,” commented Judge Tharp while imposing sentence, “The defendant was stealing money from those in need….putting many in need at risk.” Babu admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare from approximately November 2011 through February 2014. In addition, Babu admitted that between November 2012 and December 2013, he issued multiple prescriptions for controlled substances to a patient, who was actually an undercover agent, despite never having seen or examined the patient. Babu also permitted unlicensed personnel associated with Anik Life Sciences to issue prescriptions to the patient. During the same period, Babu submitted false claims to Medicare for services provided to the patient that were not rendered by Babu or another licensed medical professional.
According to court documents, the undercover agent posed as a healthy individual covered by Medicare and seeking physician services to obtain prescription medication, including oxycodone. The agent claimed to have shoulder pain from a previous injury and to be on disability. On approximately 10 occasions, representatives from Anik Life Sciences, none of whom were licensed as physicians, nurses, or other medical professionals, visited the undercover agent in his purported apartment.
Babu caused unlicensed personnel from Anik Life Sciences to provide medical care ― including prescriptions issued under Babu’s name and DEA registration number for controlled substances ― to the undercover agent and then billed Medicare for that care. Medicare and its contractor paid about $4,000 to cover the costs of the prescriptions that Babu issued to the undercover agent.
In addition to the undercover agent, Babu had other patients, whom he certified and re-certified as eligible for home health services under Medicare, and submitted claims for care he provided, including home visits and diagnostic testing and review, without regard to whether the claimed services were medically necessary. Babu hired three foreign medical school graduates who were not licensed physicians in the United States to conduct home visits and advertised these individuals as “MDs” or doctors. Babu submitted Medicare claims indicating that he personally conducted the patient visits and provided comprehensive medical evaluations that he did not actually perform.
Babu also maintained an office staff that he directed to order certain diagnostic tests for every patient, including ultrasound and autonomic nervous system testing, without regard to medical necessity. He further prescribed controlled substances to patients who he had never seen or examined and permitted his unlicensed staff to fill out prescriptions and order refills for patients.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the HHS-OIG; and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker.