September 30, 2014

Michigan Home Health Agency Owner Charged in Connection with $2.6 Million Home Health Care Scheme

WASHINGTON—An owner of a Detroit-area home health agency has been charged for her alleged role in a $2.6 million home health care scheme involving the payment of kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office, and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

Rahmat Begum, 48, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was charged in a six-count indictment, unsealed today, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, false statements relating to health care matters, conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and money laundering.

According to allegations in the indictment, Begum co-owned and operated Empirical Home Health Care Inc., an Oakland County, Michigan, home health agency that purported to provide in-home health care services to Medicare beneficiaries. Begum allegedly paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians for their referral of Medicare beneficiaries to Empirical Home Health Care. The indictment also alleges that Begum laundered the proceeds of the scheme through a company known as Focal Project Management Consulting.

According to the indictment, Medicare paid Empirical approximately $2,661,331 for false and fraudulent home health care claims where the referrals were obtained through the payment of kickbacks.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and James McDonald of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: