Area doctors indicted on fraud, narcotics and money laundering
Updated 7:39 pm, Wednesday, July 26, 2017
BRIDGEPORT-Less than 24 hours after he was denied bail as a risk of flight Dr. Bharat Patel of Milford was indicted with his partner on federal health care fraud, money laundering and narcotics distributions charges.
The indictments come as part of nationwide probe into the over-presciption of narcotic pain-killer and health care fraud.
Patel, 70, of Devine Place, Milford and Dr. Ramil Mansourov, 47, of Tokeneke Road, Darien, operated out of Family Health Urgent Care, 235 Main Street, Norwalk. The pair was among 115 doctors, nurses and medical professionals charged in the nationwide crackdown which claimed $1.3 billion in false billings.
The five-count indictment charges Patel and Mansourov with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone, which carries a 20-year maximum prison term and health care fraud, which carries a 10-year maximum term. The indictment also charges Mansourov with two counts and Patel with one count of money laundering, which carries a 20-year maximum prison term.
Additionally, the government seeks forfeiture of both doctors’ homes, $16,521.25 seized from Patel’s safe deposit box and money judgments equal to the pair’s alleged illegal profits.
Patel had owned the Norwalk clinic until 2012 when he sold it to Mansourov but continued to work there. Addicts allegedly described the clinic to federal agents as “The Candy Shop,” court documents charge.
Patel was arrested and his home and office searched on July 12 by federal agents. Mansourov allegedly fled to Montreal where he was apprehended the following day by Canada Border Services agents on an immigration charge. He is being detained there while the U.S. seeks to extradite him.
On Tuesday U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel determined Patel to be a flight risk and continued his detention without bond. The judge made that decision following two days of hearings in which Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale presented evidence that Patel owns at least three residences, has a bank account and spends almost six months a year in India even though he is a U.S. citizen.
Kale also played a 12-minute black and white video which shows a cooperating witness sliding three $100 bills to Patel this past March after telling the doctor to write him several prescriptions for narcotics with specific dates.
Daniel Wenner, Patel’s lawyer, proposed a $1.2 million bond secured by real estate, including a Torrington motel, all owned by the doctor’s family. He also informed the magistrate judge that the government has the doctor’s passport.
But the proposal did not convince Garfinkel to release Patel.
U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said the two doctors have been participating providers with Medicare and the Connecticut Medicaid Program. Beginning in approximately 2013, the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration received information that the pair may be writing prescriptions for controlled substances outside the scope of legitimate medical practice.
The prosecution accuses Patel of providing prescriptions for narcotics, to patients he knew were addicted or had been arrested for distributing or possessing controlled substances. One was a known Norwalk drug dealer who was convicted and sentenced to prison in 2014. Following his release the dealer obtained over 1,000 oxycodone pills prescribed by Patel from March 11, 2016 to Dec. 24, 2016,
On numerous occasions Patel provided prescriptions to patients, even non-patients for cash, according to investigators. They charged that when Patel was unavailable Mansourov wrote the prescriptions. In 2014 Patel is accused of depositing more than $50,000 in cash into his or his wife’s bank accounts.
Some of the patients used state Medicaid benefits to pay for their prescriptions and then sold the drugs on the street.
The five-count indictment claims that between November 2013 and December 2016, Mansourov defrauded the state’s Medicaid program of more than $4 million by billing for home, office and nursing home visits that never ocurred —sometimes on days where investigators claim he was out of state or even out of the country.
They believe Mansourov maintained a Swiss bank account.
This investigation is being conducted by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the Norwalk Police Department, with assistance from the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad includes officers from the Bristol, Greenwich, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Shelton, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.