April 15, 2015

Dentist Involved in Medicaid Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MEHRAN ZAMANI, DDS, 50, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to a federal health care fraud offense stemming from a multimillion Medicaid fraud scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, the Medicaid program is a joint federal-state program that provides funds for medical services to lower-income individuals who qualify for benefits. The program is jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and supervised by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In Connecticut, the Medicaid program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

In the fall of 2008, ZAMANI was hired by Gary Anusavice to work as a dentist at Landmark Dental, a dental practice in West Haven that Anusavice had opened earlier in the year. At the time, Anusavice was a convicted felon, former dentist, and excluded Medicaid provider. Although Anusavice remained the primary decision maker for the business, ZAMANI became the dentist whose name and license were used as the front for the practice.

In approximately January 2009, ZAMANI signed an application for Landmark Dental to become a Medicaid provider. The application failed to disclose that Anusavice had an ownership interest in Landmark Dental, that he was subject of prior disciplinary and criminal actions, and that he was excluded from the Medicaid program. Even though ZAMANI was aware of Anusavice’s disciplinary history, ZAMANI subsequently signed Medicaid provider applications for two other dental practices operated by Anusavice, Dental Group of Stamford and Dental Group of Connecticut in Trumbull. Both applications also failed to disclose Anusavice’s background and involvement in the practices.

Pursuant to these fraudulent provider applications, from approximately January 2009 to March 2011, ZAMANI submitted or caused to be submitted numerous claims to Connecticut Medicaid pursuant to which Medicaid reimbursement payments were made.

As a result of this fraud, the Connecticut Medicaid program reimbursed Anusavice’s dental practices nearly $21 million.

ZAMANI pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing the administration of a federal health care program. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on July 6, 2015, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years.

In March 2015, ZAMANI signed a settlement agreement that resolved pending civil matters with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ZAMANI agreed to pay $200,000, forfeit a dental office he owned at 18 Madison Street in Hartford, and give up all rights to approximately $1.9 million in Medicaid dollars that had been suspended by the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

ZAMANI also agreed to be excluded from all federal health care programs for a period of 10 years.

On June 3, 2013, Anusavice pleaded guilty to health care fraud and tax evasion offenses stemming from his involvement in this scheme. On October 9, 2013, he was sentenced to 97 months of imprisonment. In addition, he was ordered to pay restitution of more than $5.2 million, and back taxes of more than $1.8 million, plus applicable interest and penalties. He also forfeited his Rhode Island residence, a 33-foot yacht, a Mercedes Benz automobile and approximately $91,700 in cash.

Anusavice also has agreed to pay the state $9.9 million, which represents treble damages under the Connecticut False Claims Act and restitution under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

This matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office provided assistance and cooperation throughout the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Wines and Richard Molot.

U.S. Attorney Daly encourages individuals who suspect health care fraud to report it by calling the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 777-6311 or 1-800-HHS-TIPS.