DETROIT – An Oakland County doctor and a certified social worker are among five people facing federal charges in connection with an $11 million health care fraud scheme through a Farmington Hills psychotherapy agency, officials said.
Two of the five charged, Mohamed Kazkaz, 54, of Farmington Hills and Ziad Khalel, 52, of Rochester Hills, were indicted on January 11. Added as new defendants on May 4 were Dr. Mustafa Hares, 76, of West Bloomfield, Geraldine Letman, MSW, 70, of Phoenix, Arizona and Gamela Ali, 33, of Dearborn.
According to federal prosecutors, the scheme involved submitting false claims to Medicare for psychotherapy services that were never provided and/or induced by kickbacks. It’s alleged that Kazkaz, who owned and operated Centre HRW in Farmington Hills, bribed and gave kickbacks to Khalel, a patient recruiter, to refer Medicare beneficiaries to his clinic for psychotherapy services. The services were purportedly medically unnecessary and never provided.
Charged as members of the conspiracy in the indictment are:
- Mohamed Kazkaz, 54, of Farmington Hills, Michigan;
- Ziad Khalel, 52, of Rochester Hills, Michigan;
- Dr. Mustafa Hares, 76, of West Bloomfield, Michigan;
- Geraldine Letman, MSW, 70, of Phoenix, Arizona; and
- Gamela Ali, 33, of Dearborn, Michigan.
Federal prosecutors further allege that the Medicare patients would sign blank sheets so the claims could be submitted. Ali, as the office manager of Centre CRW, was responsible for obtaining information regarding the patients’ legitimate medical visits to ensure Kazkaz did not submit claims for a psychotherapy appointment on the same date the patient had a legitimate appointment with another medical provider. Dr. Hares and Letman would complete fraudulent patient charts indicating they had seen the patient, when in fact, such psychotherapy services were never rendered and/or were induced by kickbacks. As a result of the false and fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare, Centre HRW billed Medicare more than $11 million and Medicare made payments to Centre HRW in an amount more than $5.3 million.
Kazkaz is also charged with six counts of money laundering for allegedly engaging in monetary transactions exceeding $10,000, including the transfer of more than $1.4 million dollars in fraudulent health care fraud proceeds to a national restaurant chain, according to the Department of Justice.
“The payment of kickbacks to induce referrals for medical services in Federal health care programs, as well as billing for services not rendered, can undermine the trust we place in our nation’s providers and results in costly reductions to our federal health care programs,” said Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit fraud and pay kickbacks are held accountable.”
“Health care professionals who fraudulently bill Medicare for services never actually provided divert taxpayer money meant to pay for medically necessary services for people enrolled in Medicare,” said James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to eradicate schemes that defraud government-sponsored health care programs.”
“My office is committed to prosecuting any individual, especially medical professionals, who exploits Medicare, a taxpayer-funded program that provides essential services to seniors and disabled individuals,” stated U.S. Attorney Ison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Regina R. McCullough and Philip A. Ross. Assistant United States Attorney K. Craig Welkener, of the Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Unit, is handling related forfeiture matters. The investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG