OAKLAND COUNTY, MI – A Bloomfield Hills doctor was arrested on November 24th, 2014 and charged in a criminal complaint for his role in a health care fraud scheme for improperly performing lumbar spinal fusions, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
Joining in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Special Agent in Charge Marlon Miller, Homeland Security Investigations.
According to the complaint, Dr. Aria O. Sabit operates the Michigan Brain and Spine Physicians group in Southfield. The complaint alleges Sabit purportedly performed lumbar spinal fusion surgeries, which normally entails placing a medical device in a patient’s spinal column. In fact, Dr. Sabit would place no medical device in the patient’s spinal column, while billing the patient’s insurer, leading the patient to believe that the surgery had been performed correctly. When their pain continued, patients sought second opinions and were told that no medical devices had been implanted.
Insurers included Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, as well as auto insurance companies.
The complaint further alleges that Dr. Sabit failed to disclose his involvement in health care fraud when he obtained citizenship in the United States. Before his naturalization as a U.S. citizen on May 10, 2013, Dr. Sabit failed to disclose that he had knowingly committed health care fraud, an aggravated felony, making him statutorily ineligible for naturalization.
“Doctors who lie to their patients about the procedures they have undergone not only obtain funds by fraud, but, even worse, they put patients’ health at risk,” McQuade said.
“The violation of a patient’s trust for selfish gain through the fraudulent abuse of our nation’s health care system is a very serious crime,” stated Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to fighting health care fraud and keeping our citizens safe.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh stated, “The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, not only in terms of potential Medicare dollars improperly obtained, but patient safety as well. The OIG will aggressively investigate allegations of this nature in order to ensure the safety of Medicare patients and to protect vital taxpayer dollars.”
Dr. Sabit was to appear in federal court today at 1:00 p.m.
Patients who have questions concerning their medical records and/or information regarding this investigation and prosecution can call the United States Attorney’s Office Information Line at 888-702-0553. In addition, to obtain any information relating to patient medical records, please send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Regina McCullough and Phillip Ross. The investigations were conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and DHS-ICE.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.