Nita Patel and her husband, Kirtish Patel, both 53 of Rockaway, N.J and their diagnostic imaging companies have been ordered to pay more than $7.75 million for knowingly submitting false claims to Medicare for thousands of falsified diagnostic test reports and their underlying tests, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman announced on July 12. The defendants also were found liable for knowingly submitting false claims for neurological tests conducted without physician supervision.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler ordered the Patels and Biosound Medical Services and Heart Solution PC — to pay the government $5 million in damages and $2.75 million in civil penalties. Additionally, the couple must pay interest for a total of $7,756,865, the judge ordered.
Chesler ordered the payments after granting the government’s motion for summary judgment on the two False Claims Act counts of a civil complaint that was filed in November 2015. The couple pleaded guilty in November 2015 to complaints charging them with healthcare fraud. The government claimed the couple created fraudulent diagnostic test reports, forged physician signatures on the reports and then billed Medicare. The complaint also alleged that the Patels billed Medicare for neurological tests that they conducted without the required physician supervision.
The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.
In the Patels’ case, the whistleblower was an employee of Biosound. For the information, the whistleblower will receive 15 to 25 percent of the money recovered by the government, according to the statement.
Fishman said in the statement that FBI special agents under the direction of special agent in charge Timothy Gallagher and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General under the direction of special agent in charge Scott J. Lampert led the investigation that resulted in the judge’s order. The Patels are due back in court Aug. 16.
The Patels each pleaded guilty Nov. 17 last year to information charging them with health care fraud related to this conduct. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Aug. 16 before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls.
The government’s civil complaint alleged that defendants created fraudulent diagnostic test reports, forged physician signatures on these reports, and then billed Medicare for the fraudulent reports and the underlying tests that were used solely to create these reports.