Acing U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning announced Monday a Germantown doctor was convicted of two criminal schemes, involving fraudulently billing for anesthesia services and referring patients’ urine toxicology specimens to a New Jersey diagnostic lab.
Forty-eight-year-old Atif Babar Malik received $1.376 million in kickbacks in exchange for referring patients’ toxicology specimens to a New Jersey-based Accu Reference. Malik and five others were charged in the fraudulent billing and kickback schemes, according to court documents.
Malik’s co-defendant, 52-year-old Sandeep Sherlekar of Germantown, was also the co-owner of Advanced Pain Management Services, LLC. In addition to taking part in both schemes, Sherlekar made false entries to patients’ medical records. Sherlekar committed suicide prior to his scheduled arraignment in early October 2016.
Forty-one-year-old Konstantin Bas of Brooklyn, New York was the CEO and owner of Accu Reference, a diagnostic testing lab in Linden, New Jersey. Fifty-year-old Mubtagha Shah Syed of New Jersey City worked as a marketer for Accu Reference. Thirty-nine-year-old Vic Wadhwa of Frederick was the CFO of Sherlekar’s and Malik’s medical practice, Advanced Pain Management Services. All of these defendants pleaded guilty to violating the Anti-Kickback Act and are awaiting sentencing.
Forty-four-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Khan, the Chief Administrator Officer of Advanced Pain Management Services, was charged with Travel Act and kickback conspiracy. He is a fugitive who detectives believe is living in Pakistan.
Dr. Malik and Dr. Sherlekar were trained in pain management. Sherlekar was also trained in anesthesiology. The two doctors had ten offices in the United States, including Maryland and New Jersey.
Advanced Pain Management Services physicians periodically required patients being prescribed pain medications to submit a urine specimen to monitor the levels of the drugs in their bodies. In 2011, Wadhwa and Khan agreed to discontinue utilizing its current testing lab and starting utilizing Accu Reference in return for kickbacks. Sherlekar and Malik approved the plan, which later included a company that sold back braces.
The doctors referred anywhere from 700 to 1,300 urine specimens to Accu Reference each month, beginning in 2011 and continuing through July 2012. Several private insurers and Medicare paid Accu Reference about $4.4 million in reimbursement payments. These profits were split with Wadhwa, Malik, Sherlekar and Khan. Wadhwa and Kahn retained over 60 percent of the kickback payments, deceiving Malik and Sherleka.
Advanced Pain Management Services also submitted bills to private insurers and Medicare utilizing a billing code that represented two physicians had provided anesthesia and nerve block, even though only one physician was present, resulting in a higher reimbursement.
Each health care fraud conviction carries a 10-year prison sentence, each Travel Act conviction carries a five-year prison sentence and each conviction of soliciting and receiving health care related kickbacks carries a two-year prison sentence.