Dem Donors Plead Guilty to $33 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Group has given more than $40,000 to Democrats

April 1, 2016

Five individuals who have donated to Democratic politicians pleaded guilty to a scheme that drained Medicare out of $33 million dollars.

Two physicians and three owners of hospice and home care companies based out of Detroit, Mich., were charged on June 18, 2015 as part of the largest Medicare fraud case in history for submitting fraudulent claims for home health care and hospice services that were either not provided or deemed medically unnecessary.

The elaborate operation revolved around Muhammad Tariq, Shahid Tahir, and Manawar Javed—the owners of the home health care and hospice companies—paying kickbacks and bribes to physicians for referrals to their companies that included A Plus Hospice and Palliative Care, At Home Hospice, and At Home Network Inc.

Wasseem Alam, a physician who was the top referrer to the companies, admitted he was responsible for millions in Medicare reimbursements and said he received kickbacks, along with other inducements, in exchange for those referrals.

"Alam bribed his patients into accepting services from At Home Network by providing them with medically unnecessary controlled substance prescriptions both personally and through unlicensed individuals, he admitted," the Justice Department said. "Co-owner Tariq admitted that he knew about Alam’s controlled substances bribes to patients.  Alam also instructed others to falsify patient files to hide the fact that the prescriptions were medically unnecessary, according to his plea agreement."

Hatem Ataya, a physician who was the second highest referrer to the At Home Network and the top referrer to At Home Hospice, also admitted to accepting kickbacks for his referrals.

"Ataya also admitted that the Tahir-associated companies would submit false billing based on his referrals for purported home health and hospice services, when, at times, these services were neither medically necessary nor provided," the Justice Department said.

Ataya was separately charged last year in connection with the death of three patients and hit with three counts of delivering a controlled substance and another three counts of delivering a controlled substance causing death, according to WNEM TV in Flint, Michigan.

Tariq, Tahir, and Javed pleaded guilty to one count to commit health care fraud and wire fraud.

Alam and Ateya both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, while Alam additionally pleaded guilty to one count of structuring.

All five individuals have combined to give tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians.

Shahid Tahir, one of the owners of the companies, has made 63 contributions totaling at least $33,000 to Democratic politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Reps. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) and Gary Peters (D., Mich.), among many others.

Muhammed Tariq, another owner, added five donations to Democratic politicians including the likes of John Edwards and Reps. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Bobby McKenzie (D., Mich.). Tariq contributed $2,000 to Democrats throughout the years.

Manawar Javed, the third owner, made two contributions to Democrats that totaled $750.

The first physician involved in the scheme, Waseem Alam, made $3,250 worth of donations that included a $1,000 contribution to both Hillary Clinton and Rep. Stabenow.

Hatem Ateya, the second physician, made four separate donations to Democrats that came to $2,500.

Together, they have donated more than $40,000 to Democratic politicians nationwide, compared to just $2,000 to Republicans within Michigan.

The group was initially caught last year during a nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

The sweep resulted in charges against 243 individuals including 46 doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals for $712 million in false billings—the largest Medicare fraud bust in history.

Requests for comment were not returned.