Atlanta lab owner Minal Patel involved in one of the largest genetic testing fraud cases
An Indian American man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting over $463 million in unnecessary genetic and other laboratory tests procured through kickbacks and bribes.
Minal Patel, 44, of Atlanta, Georgia owned LabSolutions LLC, a lab enrolled with Medicare that performed sophisticated genetic tests, according to a Justice Department press release issued Friday.
Patel conspired with patient brokers, telemedicine companies, and call centers to target Medicare beneficiaries with telemarketing calls falsely stating that Medicare covered expensive cancer genetic tests, according to court documents.
After the Medicare beneficiaries agreed to take a test, Patel paid kickbacks and bribes to patient brokers to obtain signed doctors’ orders authorizing the tests from telemedicine companies.
To conceal the kickbacks and bribes, Patel required patient brokers to sign sham contracts that falsely stated that the brokers were performing legitimate advertising services for LabSolutions, when, as Patel well knew, the brokers were deceptively marketing to Medicare beneficiaries and paying kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies for genetic testing prescriptions.
“In one of the largest genetic testing fraud cases ever tried to verdict, today’s sentence makes clear that the Department will seek justice for those who put profits above patient care, including owners and executives,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“The sentence also demonstrates the Criminal Division’s ongoing commitment to fighting telemedicine and genetic testing fraud that exploits patients and drains health care benefit programs.”
Patel knew the telemedicine doctors robo-signed prescriptions for expensive genetic testing even though they were not treating the beneficiaries, often did not even speak with them, and made no evaluation of medical necessity, the release stated.
From July 2016 through August 2019, LabSolutions submitted more than $463 million in claims to Medicare, including for thousands of medically unnecessary genetic tests, of which Medicare paid over $187 million.
In that timeframe, Minal Patel personally received over $21 million from Medicare in connection with the fraud.
“Deception, kickbacks, and bribes have no place in the provision of legitimate genetic testing and telemedicine services to patients who need them,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office.
“Patel bilked hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare through a complex testing fraud scheme. He is now paying the price for this crime.”
Assistant US Attorney Marx Calderon for the Southern District of Florida is handling asset forfeiture proceedings. An asset forfeiture hearing is scheduled for Aug 25.