Former Doctor Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Distributing Prescription Opioid Drugs, Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
Sardar Ashrafkhan of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for participating in a conspiracy to distribute opioid pills, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and money laundering, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch announced.
Ashrafkhan, also known as “Dr. Khan,” 59, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland.
Lemisch was joined in the announcement by Timothy Plancon, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration; David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robin Shoemaker, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Lamont Pugh, Special Agent in Charge of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; and Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.
Sardar Ashrafkhan was found guilty, along with two co-defendant doctors, after a seven week jury trial. Ashrafkhan was convicted on felony counts of conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription opioid drugs, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and two counts of money laundering. The convictions arose from the operation of the defendant’s fraudulent medical practice known as Compassionate Doctors. The medical practice purported to be a visiting physician’s practice, but was actually a scheme that involved patient marketers bringing paid “patients” to residences to obtain fraudulent opioid prescriptions for controlled substances. Medicare was billed for medical examinations and tests that were not conducted properly or were not conducted at all. Marketers filled the controlled substance prescriptions at cooperating pharmacies and sold the drugs on the street market.
According to evidence submitted at trial and at sentencing, Ashrafkhan operated Compassionate and related health care corporations from 2006 until 2013.
Ashrafkhan was responsible for participating in illegally distributing over 200,000 dosage units of oxycodone (including Oxycontin) and opana, powerful Schedule II opiates. He was responsible for over 1 million dosage units of another opioid, hydrocodone (Vicodin, lortab), and over 3 million dosage units of controlled substances of all kinds. He was responsible for over $8 million in health care fraud.
Oxycontin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are controlled substances that may be prescribed by a doctor only for a legitimate medical purpose. A doctor must act in good faith in prescribing these medications. These powerful and addictive drugs in the opioid class are easily abused, and can lead to addiction and eventual heroin use.
“More people die in America every year from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of all other drugs combined,” Lemisch said. “In addition, prescription drug addiction has led to resurgence in heroin use. Licensed professionals who participate in the diversion of prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to this epidemic, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them.”
“Dishonest and unethical Doctors and Pharmacists who provide prescription drugs, especially Opioids, to individuals with no medical need are fueling a national crisis which has resulted in alarming levels of addiction, overdose deaths, and violence at the hands of criminal enterprises competing to flood our streets with illegal drugs,” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “To those prioritizing profit over their pledge to honestly service the health needs of the public, the message should be clear that the collective resources of local, state and federal law enforcement will expose your illegal activities and bring you to justice.”
“When you exploit every business principle to enrich your pocket with illegal proceeds,” stated Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel, “IRS Criminal Investigation will use their financial expertise to shut you down.”
Ashrafkhan was one of 44 defendants named in a multi-count second superseding indictment unsealed in March of 2013. Six doctors and five pharmacists were convicted, either by guilty plea or at trial, and all received custodial sentences. The longest custodial sentence imposed on a pharmacist was 78 months, and the longest custodial sentence imposed on a doctor was 228 months. As the owner and manager of the fraudulent clinic, Sardar was the leader of the activity and obtained the largest share of the profits from this illegal activity.
Ashrafkhan is a citizen of Pakistan who came to the United States in approximately 1991 to study medicine. He no longer has legal status in the United States, and is subject to deportation after service of his sentence.
Acting United States Attorney Lemisch thanked the agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Detroit Police Dept., Portsmouth, Ohio, Police Dept., Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, and the Detroit Violent Crimes Task Force and Michigan State Police for their successful investigation of the case.
|Written by Susen Sawatzki
Healthcare Industry Expert
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