Cover Photo: Judge Manish Shah
San Francisco, Feb 19 (IANS) Indian-American judge Manish Shah has sentenced Muhammad Ateeq, 33, of Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay approximately $48 million in restitution.
In addition, judge Shah in the Northern District of Illinois in the US ordered the forfeiture of a $2.4 million cashier’s check and over $1 million in cash, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.
According to court documents, Ateeq worked in the Islamabad office of Home Health Care Consulting, an entity that controlled Medicare billing and maintenance of electronic medical records for over 20 home health agencies located in Illinois, Indiana, Nevada and Texas.
While working at Home Health Care Consulting, Ateeq used a variety of fake identities, including “Nilesh Patel”, “Sanjay Kapoor” and “Rajesh Desai” to acquire and manage home health agencies in the US.
Once the agencies were under Ateeq’s control, he “caused the agencies to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services, resulting in over $40 million in payments for services that were never rendered”, the DoJ said.
As part of the money laundering conspiracy, Ateeq directed his US employees to deposit cheques of fraud proceeds into US bank accounts designated by overseas customers of overseas money transmitting businesses.
The money transmitting businesses then issued cash payments to Ateeq in Pakistan, as well as deposits into bank accounts in Pakistan under Ateeq’s control.
“Ateeq also directed US employees to use fraud proceeds to purchase expensive watches and other luxury items in the United States and then deliver the items to Ateeq’s associates in Dubai,” said the DoJ.
The FBI Chicago Field Office and US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) investigated the case.