Indian-origin lab owner sentenced to prison for USD 463 million genetic testing scam in US

Houston: An Indian-origin laboratory owner from the US state of Georgia was sentenced to 27 years in prison for his involvement in a USD 463 million genetic testing scam spanning over three years to defraud Medicare.

Minal Patel, who owned LabSolutions LLC, was sentenced on Friday to 27 years in prison for his role in the scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting over USD 463 million in genetic and other laboratory tests that patients did not need and were procured through the payment of kickbacks and bribes.

The 44-year-old conspired with patient brokers, telemedicine companies and call centres to target Medicare beneficiaries with telemarketing calls falsely stating that their package covered expensive cancer genetic tests, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

After the Medicare beneficiaries agreed to take tests, Patel paid kickbacks and bribes to patient brokers to obtain signed doctors’ orders authorising the tests from telemedicine companies, the department said in a press release.

To conceal the kickbacks, Patel required the patient brokers to sign contracts that falsely stated that they were performing legitimate advertising services for LabSolutions.

From July 2016 through August 2019, LabSolutions submitted more than USD 463 million in claims to Medicare, including for thousands of medically unnecessary genetic tests, of which the national health insurance programme paid over USD 187 million.

In that timeframe, Patel personally received over USD 21 million from Medicare in connection with the fraud.

“Deception, kickbacks, and bribes have no place in the provision of legitimate genetic testing and telemedicine services to patients who need them,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office.

“Patel bilked hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare through a complex testing fraud scheme. He is now paying the price for this crime,” he said.

The case was brought as part of Operation Double Helix, a federal law enforcement action led by the Health Care Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

It focused on fraudulent genetic cancer testing, resulting in charges against dozens of defendants associated with telemedicine companies and cancer genetic testing laboratories for their alleged participation in one of the largest healthcare fraud schemes ever charged.

According to the press release, an asset forfeiture hearing is scheduled for August 25.

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