Owners of Houston Mental Health Company and Assisted Living Facility Indicted for Alleged Roles in $90 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Department of Justice December 14, 2011|
WASHINGTON—Two owners of a Houston mental health care company, Spectrum Care P.A., and the owner of a Houston assisted living facility were arrested today on charges related to their alleged participation in a $90 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FBI.
Mansour Sanjar, 78, Cyrus Sajadi, 64, and Chandra Nunn, 33, all of Houston, were arrested today in Houston and are expected to make their initial appearances in federal court today and tomorrow. An indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas charges Sanjar, Sajadi and Nunn with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks.
“These defendants allegedly participated in a scheme to cheat the Medicare program out of more than $90 million,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The indictment alleges that Spectrum billed Medicare for mental health services when patients were actually watching movies, playing bingo or engaging in other activities. Our efforts over the past three years to combat Medicare fraud have been unprecedented, and today’s arrests are another example.”
“This case is another excellent example of the partnership and cooperation between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice and our investigating agencies,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas. “We will continue to work closely with each other to ensure those who engage in such fraudulent health care practices are brought to justice.”
According to the indictment, Sanjar and Sajadi orchestrated and executed a scheme to defraud Medicare beginning in 2006 and continuing until their arrest today. Sanjar and Sajadi owned Spectrum Care P.A., a Houston mental health company that purportedly provided partial hospitalization programs (PHP). A PHP is a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness. Sanjar and Sajadi allegedly submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through Spectrum.
According to the indictment, Nunn owned a Houston assisted living facility. The indictment alleges that Sanjar and Sajadi paid kickbacks to Nunn and other owners and operators of assisted living facilities and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to Spectrum. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks.
Sanjar and Sajadi allegedly billed Medicare for treatments purportedly provided to these recruited patients. According to the indictment, the treatments were medically unnecessary or never provided at all. The indictment alleges that Spectrum billed Medicare for more than $90 million in medically unnecessary services.
Today’s arrests were announced by Assistant Attorney General Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS’s Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU); Joseph J. Del Favero, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG); and Scott Rezendes, Special Agent in Charge of Field Operations of the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General (OPM-OIG).
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Laura Cordova and Allan J. Medina and Acting Deputy Chief Sam S. Sheldon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section with assistance from Trial Attorneys Jennifer Ambuehl and Aixa Maldonado-Quinones of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, MFCU, RRB-OIG and OPM-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and 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 www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.