Three medical professionals with ties to Queens have been arrested in a nationwide health care fraud sting for allegedly bilking Medicare and Medicaid out of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Ghanshyam Bhambhani, 52, a cardiologist who operates an office at 107-06 Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park, allegedly violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying other physicians for patient referrals. According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde, other doctors secretly recorded him discussing payments for patient referrals.
An investigation found that Bhambhani, and other employees in his practice, submitted more than $11.1 million in Medicare claims as a result of this scheme, Rhode said.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that Bhambhani was taken into custody by federal agents on the morning of July 13 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, after he departed a flight from India.
Federal law enforcement agents also arrested Xiaoliang Zhang, 53, a physician specializing in rehabilitation who operates the Elmhurst United Medical P.C., which has clinics at 45-02 82nd St. in Elmhurst and 41-60 Main St. in Flushing.
Prosecutors said that Zhang allegedly ordered his staff to submit $27 million in Medicare and Medicaid claims covering physical therapy services that were deemed medically unnecessary for his patients. The Elmhurst and Flushing clinics were raided by federal agents in connection with the investigation.
Finally, Bayside resident Mayura Kanekar, 42, was arrested along with four other health care professionals for allegedly filing $100 million in fraudulent Medicare claims out of practices based in Brooklyn and Queens. Law enforcement sources said Kanekar, a occupational therapist who worked out of a Brooklyn clinic, allegedly worked with the co-defendants to pay illegal kickbacks for client referrals.
The clients referred to them were later subjected to unnecessary physical and occupational therapy for which Medicare would be billed, prosecutors said.
“Doctors, medical professionals and others who defraud Medicare and Medicaid and pay illegal kickbacks to line their pockets at the taxpayers’ expense are on notice that they will be investigated and prosecuted,” Rohde said.
In all, 412 individuals across the country have been arrested in the sting conducted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force which Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced on July 13. The arrested suspects allegedly perpetrated health care fraud schemes that resulted in a combined $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims.