NEWARK, N.J. – A former Florida resident living in Puerto Rico has been charged for his role in a $101 million durable medical equipment kickback scheme, Attorney for the United States Vikas Khanna announced today.
Raheel Naviwala, 34, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is charged by complaint with conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Naviwala had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, federal court and was released on $150,000 bond.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Naviwala and his conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained doctors’ orders for durable medical equipment (DME), namely orthotic braces, for Medicare beneficiaries, without regard to medical necessity. Naviwala and his conspirators obtained the DME orders through the use of marketing call centers and telemedicine companies. Naviwala and his conspirators provided these orders in exchange for bribes from certain companies that provided the braces to Medicare beneficiaries. Naviwala and his conspirators caused losses to Medicare of $101 million.
The charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.
Attorney for the United States Khanna credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark and Acting Special Agent in Charge is Maged Behnam in Miami, Florida; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Naomi Gruchacz; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty; and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri with the investigation leading to the charge.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean M. Sherman and Ray Mateo of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.