Are “New American” Doctors Fueling the Opioid Crisis?

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No bond for Dr. Rajendra Bothra

Surely some of the doctors who prescribe unnecessary pain medications and hook hundreds of thousands of Americans on drugs are American born and bred, but check out this story from Michigan in December.

Not only did these ‘new American’ doctors and health professionals turn unsuspecting Americans into drug addicts, but they did it by using your taxpayer dollars in multi-million dollar fraud schemes involving Medicare and Medicaid.

They got rich destroying lives!

And, when they got caught, many fled the country!

From the Detroit News:

Rich and on the run: Doctors flee country amid fraud, opioid crackdown

Detroit — More than a dozen doctors and medical professionals charged with federal crimes locally have fled the country in recent years amid a federal crackdown on illegal opioid use and health care fraud.

Prosecutors used the fugitive status of 16 medical professionals who have fled since 2011 to keep Dr. Rajendra Bothra jailed Wednesday while he awaits trial in a nearly $500 million conspiracy, one of the largest health care fraud cases in U.S. history.

Here is a bit more, but please read the shocking story!

The medical professionals who have fled for overseas destinations including Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt in recent years have two things in common: foreign ties and big bank accounts that have financed flights from justice. In Bothra’s case, he has eight siblings in India and amassed a $35 million fortune and vast-real estate holdings, including a $1.99 million island estate.

 

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The Detroit News did a great service by publishing this list of Detroit doctors/medical professionals who have left the country to avoid prosecution. Too bad those last two columns are blank!

 

More here.

In case you have forgotten, last summer then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest healthcare bust of Medicare and Medicaid fraud scammers in US history and linked it to the opioid crisis.

Medicare Fraud Strike Force

To help find and prosecute frauds and crooks, the feds established the Medicare Fraud Strike Force involving a coordinated effort between the Fraud Section of the US Justice Department, US Attorney’s offices, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General and local law enforcement.

I bet you’ve never even heard of it because the national media rarely (if ever!) mentions its work, which the Strike Force says has resulted in successful prosecutions of 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.

In addition to the Detroit area, the Strike Force is operating in 12 locations around the US: Miami, FL, Los Angeles, CA, Houston, TX, Brooklyn, NY, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA, Tampa and Orlando, FL, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Washington, DC, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA and the Appalachian Region.

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I wonder why these huge Medicare and Medicaid fraud stories never seem to be front page news across the country and why aren’t they widely reported by cable news?

 

 

Michigan: Complaint filed against Sonic Drive-in Owner for Defrauding Medicare and Medicaid to the Tune of $1.2 Million

 

Editor: This is the first of several such stories I have lined up to report from Michigan!

I can’t say this better than the Detroit News says it,

A Dearborn pharmacist, hailed earlier this year for opening the nation’s first halal-certified Sonic Drive-In restaurant, cheated Medicare and Medicaid by charging for medication prescribed to dead people, according to federal prosecutors.

Trudell Pharmacy owner Haytham “Tom” Fakih also committed health care fraud by billing for expensive medication that was not dispensed to patients, prosecutors alleged in a criminal complaint filed against the pharmacist in federal court Sunday. In all, the fraud cost more than $1.2 million, authorities allege.

[….]

The investigation emerged publicly in September when federal agents seized more than $350,000 during a series of raids that happened five months after Fakih staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony at his Sonic Drive-In restaurant with Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and other community leaders.

Sonic ribbon-cutting

 

Sonic drive in opening
The bearded guy in the middle is Dearborn’s mayor with “Tom” Fakih on his right. Photo is from the Press and Review story about the grand opening of Sonic’s Halal fast food restaurant.

 

In April of last year Fakih, 53, opened a halal drive-in restaurant to much fanfare, says a Press and Guide report,

Representatives from the city, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, local religious organizations, Dearborn Public Schools, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce and friends of franchise owner Tom Fakih came out to support the new business during its celebration on Wednesday. Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. cut the ribbon…

The offerings showed off the halal options that make the Dearborn location unique. It is the only Sonic in the country to offer them.

According to the Detroit News,

On Sunday, Fakih was released on $10,000 unsecured bond after making an initial appearance in federal court. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.

More at the Detroit News.

*Note* a charge by the government is not a determination of guilt.

More tomorrow about Michigan!

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I suppose I could do some digging to find out more about Fakih, apparently a well-established and well-connected businessman in Dearborn, but news reports don’t mention his nationality or anything else about him.