New York Surgeon Gets 13 Years in Prison for Medicare Fraud

Marcia Frellick

February 14, 2018

New York surgeon Syed Imran Ahmed, MD, was sentenced last Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn to 13 years in prison for multimillion-dollar Medicare fraud, according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

US Chief Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the Eastern District of New York also ordered Ahmed, 51, to pay $7.3 million in restitution, forfeit $7.3 million, and pay a $20,000 fine.

Ahmed, of Glen Head, New York, who specialized in wound care and weight loss, was convicted in July 2016 on one count of healthcare fraud, three counts of making false statements related to healthcare matters, and two counts of money laundering.

"Dr Syed Ahmed treated Medicare like a personal piggy bank, stealing over $7.2 million by making fraudulent claims for medical procedures he never performed," US Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York said in announcing the sentence. "Dr Ahmed will now pay the price for violating the trust that Medicare places in doctors. His 13-year prison sentence and the heavy payments imposed should send a powerful message of deterrence to other medical professionals."

Ahmed practiced at the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, the Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, New York, and the Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Center, New York, according to the DOJ statement.

Evidence presented at the 11-day trial by the government showed that from January 2011 through December 2013, Ahmed billed Medicare approximately $85 million for wound debridement procedures and incision-and-drainage procedures that he didn't perform.

"Ahmed wrote out lists of phony surgeries and sent the lists to his billing company in Michigan with instructions that they be billed to Medicare. Ahmed also directed that the surgeries be billed as though they had taken place in an operating room so as to increase the payout for the fraudulent scheme," the statement said.

In some of the claims, Ahmed billed for multiple procedures on the same patient on the same day for several days in a row, according to trial documents.

The evidence that was presented showed that Medicare paid him more than $7 million in the fraudulent claims.

According to a July 2016 article in the New York Daily News, an attorney on his defense team, Catherine Grealis, said the incorrect billings happened because Ahmed was disorganized and confused about the Medicare billing codes. "He was not perfect. Dr Ahmed made a mistake, and making mistakes is not a crime," she said at trial.

She could not be reached for comment before publication.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General investigated the case, which was brought through the work of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

According to the statement, since March 2007, "the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion."

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