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Indian-American therapist jailed for 5 years in US

June 15, 2010 10:40 IST

An Indian-American physical therapist has been sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay US $ 2.3 million as compensation for his role in a healthcare fraud scheme. Michigan resident Baskaran Thangarasan would also undergo three years of supervised release following his prison term.

US District Court Judge Sean Cox in the Eastern District of Michigan ordered him to pay US $ 2.3 million in restitution jointly with co-defendants, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services said. Thangarasan, a licensed physical therapist, had pleaded guilty in December 2009 to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

According to information in the plea documents, Thangarasan admitted that he and his co-conspirator created fictitious therapy files appearing to document physical and occupational therapy services provided to Medicare beneficiaries, when no such services had been provided. The fictitious services reflected in the files were billed to Medicare through sham Medicare providers controlled by co-conspirators.

Medicare is a social insurance programme of the US government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over, or who meet other special criteria. Thangarasan, 37, began working in February 2003 as a contract therapist for the co-conspirator who owned and controlled several companies operating in the Detroit area that purported to provide physical and occupational therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.

During the course of the scheme, Thangarasan signed approximately 1,011 fictitious physical therapy files indicating that he had provided physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries, when in fact he had not. He was paid approximately US $ 50 for each file that he falsified.

Between September 2003 and May 2006, he also falsified physical therapy files that supported claims to the Medicare programme totaling approximately US $ 5 million. Medicare paid approximately USD 2.3 million on those claims.

Thangarasan admitted that throughout the conspiracy, he was fully aware that Medicare was being billed for physical therapy services that he falsely indicated he had performed. Apart from Thangarasan, another Indian American, Sandeep Aggarwal, had also pleaded guilty last year in the fraudulent physical therapy scheme.

Yoshita Singh in Boston
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