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The Department of Justice, together with federal and state law enforcement partners, strategically coordinated a two-week nationwide law enforcement action that resulted in criminal charges against 78 defendants for their alleged participation in health care fraud and opioid abuse schemes that included over $2.5 billion in alleged fraud.

The defendants allegedly defrauded programs entrusted for the care of the elderly and disabled, and, in some cases, used the proceeds of the schemes to purchase luxury items, including exotic automobiles, jewelry, and yachts. In connection with the enforcement action, the Department seized or restrained millions of dollars in cash, automobiles, and real estate.

The identified defendants include a California chiropractor and acupuncturist. Neda Mehrabani, also known as “Neda Mehrabani Ladjevardi.” She is a chiropractor and acupuncturist licensed in the State of California and owned Health Clinic of Southern California, Inc.located at 5530 Corbin Avenue, Tarzana, California. Her website claims she became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 1994, a Doctor of Chiropractic in 1998 and a Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist in 2004.

Prosecutors allege, in the Criminal Case Filed in Los Angeles Federal Court, that Mehrabani submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for chiropractic services, utilizing CPT code 98942 (Chiropractic Manipulative Treatment, spinal 5 regions), purportedly provided to beneficiaries, when, in fact, the services had not been provided as represented and were not medically necessary. They allege that between June 2018 and in or around June 2022, she submitted approximately $3,332,365.00 in false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement for CPT code 98942 and received approximately $2,465,771.61 in payments on those claims.

Authorities in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin are prosecuting the cases against the 78 defendants, including thee one filed against Neda Mehrabani.

Among the charges filed against the accused are allegations of telemedicine fraud, pharmaceutical fraud and accusations of opioid distribution. Charges were filed against 11 defendants in connection with the submission of over $2 billion in fraudulent claims resulting from telemedicine schemes.

In a case involving the alleged organizers of one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever prosecuted, an indictment in the Southern District of Florida alleges that the chief executive officer (CEO), former CEO, and Vice President of Business Development of purported software and services companies conspired to generate and sell templated doctors’ orders for orthotic braces and pain creams in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. The conspiracy allegedly resulted in the submission of $1.9 billion in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other government insurers for orthotic braces, prescription skin creams, and other items that were medically unnecessary and ineligible for Medicare reimbursement.

As part of the alleged conspiracy, individuals in a massive telemarketing operation, located in the United States and abroad, targeted the elderly and disabled with direct mail, television advertisements, and other forms of advertising to induce them to contact offshore boiler-rooms staffed by individuals who “up-sold” the elderly and disabled on unnecessary medical equipment and prescriptions. According to the indictment, the software platform that the defendants allegedly operated was actually a conduit for these telemarketers to coordinate the payment of illegal kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies to obtain doctors’ orders for Medicare beneficiaries. The defendants allegedly programmed the software platform to generate false and fraudulent orders for telemedicine practitioners to sign and obstruct Medicare investigations by concealing that the interactions with beneficiaries had occurred remotely using telemedicine. The program-generated orders falsified certifications that the telemedicine doctors had examined the beneficiaries in person, and falsified diagnostic testing that Medicare required for brace orders. After the original CEO sold the company in a corporate acquisition, the new corporate leadership allegedly chose to continue the pre-existing fraud scheme.

In another telemedicine fraud case, in the Eastern District of Washington, a licensed physician was charged for signing more than 2800 fraudulent orders for orthotic braces, including for patients whose limbs had already been amputated. As alleged, the physician took less than 40 seconds to review and sign each order.

The enforcement action also included charges against 10 defendants in connection with the submission of over $370 million in fraudulent claims submitted in connection with prescription drugs. In one case the owner and corporate officer of a pharmaceutical wholesale distribution company was charged for an alleged $150 million fraud scheme in which the company purchased illegally diverted prescription HIV medication, and then marketed and resold the medication by falsely representing that the company acquired it through legitimate channels. The defendant allegedly purchased the diverted medication at a substantial discount from individuals who obtained the drugs primarily through illegal “buyback” schemes in which they paid HIV patients cash for their expensive HIV medication and repackaged those pills for resale. To cover up their scheme, the defendant and others falsified labeling and product tracing documentation to make it appear legitimate. Pharmacies purchased the misbranded medications, dispensed them to patients, and billed them to health care benefit programs, all while the defendants reaped substantial illegal profits.

In a related case, on June 15, an individual in the Southern District of Florida was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in this nationwide scheme. According to court documents, the defendant illegally acquired large quantities of prescription drugs from patients for whom the drugs had been prescribed but not yet consumed. The defendant and others then repackaged the drugs and sold them to wholesale companies. In some instances, the medication that the defendant sold contained the wrong medication, broken pills, and even pebbles, leading to complaints by pharmacies. The defendant used his share of the proceeds to purchase luxury goods, including a $280,000 Lamborghini, a $220,000 Mercedes, and three boats.

The charges also targeted over $150 million in false billings submitted in connection with other types of health care fraud, including the illegal distribution of opioids and clinical laboratory testing fraud.

The Center for Program Integrity of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CPI/CMS) separately announced that it took adverse administrative actions in the last six months against 90 medical providers for their alleged involvement in health care fraud.