Michigan doctor behind bars for distributing unnecessary opioids
WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - A doctor from Michigan is behind bars for his role in distributing millions of doses of medically unnecessary opioids.
In September 2021, 68-year-old Francisco Patino, M.D. from Wayne County was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks, and money laundering. Each healthcare scheme he played a role in included over $250 million in false and fraudulent claims being submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, and other health insurance programs, exploited patients by administering unnecessary injections, as well as illegally distributed over 6.6 million doses of opioids.
Court documents said that Patino owned multiple medical practices and clinical laboratories in Michigan, where he played a role in making a “shots-for-pills” protocol at several pain clinics. This practice is when patients were required to receive back injections in exchange for prescriptions of unnecessary and addictive opioids.
“Additionally, Patino pioneered the shots-for-pills protocol while working with CEO Mashiyat Rashid of the Tri-County Wellness Group of medical providers in Michigan and Ohio,” said the Justice Department (DOJ).
The injections were always intended to treat chronic pain, but Patino injected the patients without regard to medical necessity. If a patient refused an injection, they would not receive their prescriptions for opioids.
Officials said that from 2012 to 2017, Patino billed Medicare for more of these injections than any other provider in the country.
Patino was also in an illegal kickback relationship with at least one diagnostic laboratory, which was where he was paid for referring his patients’ samples to that lab.
“Between the medically unnecessary spinal injections and kickback-induced laboratory testing, Patino was responsible for over $120 million worth of fraudulent bills submitted to insurers for payment,” said the DOJ.
The DOJ also stated Patino joined 21 other defendants who were previously sentenced for participating in the same scheme.
Patino was sentenced to over 16 years in prison on Monday.
The DOJ also released information on five other defendants who most recently were sentenced for their part:
- “Yasser Mozeb, 40, of Hamtramck, Michigan, the office manager of the Tri-County clinics, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay over $46 million in restitution following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive illegal kickbacks and bribes.
- Kashif Rasool, 47, of Troy, Michigan, a physician, was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
- Tariq Siddiqi, 45, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, a physical therapist and home health owner, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay over $880,000 in restitution following his guilty plea to one count of health care fraud conspiracy in connection with his payment of illegal kickbacks for the referral of patients from the clinics for medically unnecessary home health services.
- Tasadaq Ali Ahmad, 55, of Canton, Michigan, the owner of a home health agency, was sentenced to 58 months in prison and ordered to pay over $20 million in restitution following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive kickbacks.
- Stephanie Borgula, 42, of Livonia, Michigan, a licensed physical therapist, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay over $825,000 in restitution following her guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.”
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