NewsIndiaTimes - page 11

News India Times August 26, 2016
By Abigail Hauslohner
he man charged with
killing a Queens imam
and his assistant
appeared briefly Aug.
18 in Queens County
Criminal Court after he was
appointed a new attorney to
defend him against first- and
second- degree murder charges
in the Aug. 13 killings.
His attorney, Michael
Schwed, said he had only had
the opportunity to meet with
his client briefly, and that Oscar
Morel, who turned 36 Thursday,
had maintained his innocence.
“He says he doesn’t hate
other religions. He doesn’t hate
anybody of any religion, and he
didn’t do this,” Schwed said.
The killings may have been a
hate crime, Schwed said, “but it
wasn’t him.”
Morel’s friends erupted
briefly into shouts as the hear-
ing concluded. “We love you
Oscar,” a few men yelled from
the benches, before growing
angry at a reporter who stood
up to take a picture of Morel as
he was led out of the room, in
violation of the judge’s orders.
“She should be arrested!” one
of the men yelled. The same
men then flashed middle fin-
gers at the media as they left
the courtroom.
Morel faces the possibility of
life in prison without parole in
the deaths of imam Maulama
Akonjee and his assistant,
Thara Uddin, both Bangladeshi
immigrants, as they walked
down a sidewalk near their
mosque after Saturday after-
noon prayers.
Schwed said his client has
not been charged in the
Brooklyn hit-and-run that
occurred 10 minutes after the
murders, which police said led
them to Morel.
[Suspect in New York imam’s
slaying drove into Iraqi cyclist
minutes later, man says]
A city official speaking on
the condition of anonymity
said that was likely because
Morel is already facing the
highest maximum sentence in
New York state, and a hit-and-
run charge, a misdemeanor,
which would be prosecuted by
a different district attorney in a
different borough, would be
“I’m not representing him on
that, so I don’t
know anything
about that
case,” Schwed
said of the hit-
and-run, in
which police
say Morel
struck a bicy-
clist with the
same car that
was captured
on security
cameras fleeing
the scene of the
killings in
Schwed also
said he could
not comment
on police state-
ments that Morel can be placed
at the scene of the killings and
that ballistics testing matched a
weapon found in Morel’s home,
because he hasn’t had a chance
to review the information.
He said he expects his client
to be indicted by a grand jury
Monday, when the Queens
District Attorney’s Office finish-
es its presentation on the case.
An older man who appeared
to be Morel’s relative told a
reporter for El Diario that Morel
is of Dominican descent but
was born in the United States.
– The Washington Post
– that’s all you need to know
Suspect In New York Imam’s Killing Maintains Innocence
By a StaffWriter
n Indian-American cou-
ple from Rockaway, New
Jersey, who owned a
mobile diagnostic testing com-
pany admitted Aug. 17, to
receiving more than $4.3 mil-
lion from Medicare and private
insurance companies for thou-
sands of false diagnostic tests
and reports they submitted.
Nita K. Patel, 53, and Kirtish
N. Patel, 53, pleaded guilty
today before U.S. District Judge
William H. Walls in Newark fed-
eral court to separate informa-
tions charging them each with
one count of health care fraud.
The health care fraud charge to
which Nita and Kirtish Patel
pleaded guilty carries a maxi-
mum potential penalty of 10
years in prison and a $250,000
fine, or twice the gross gain or
loss from the offense.
Sentencing for both defendants
is scheduled for March 15,
according to U.S. Attorney for
the District of New Jersey Paul J.
From 2006 through June
2014, Nita and Kirtish Patel
owned and operated Biosound
Medical Services Inc. and Heart
Solutions of Parsippany, New
Jersey. These were mobile diag-
nostic companies and approved
Medicare providers. The com-
panies provided mobile diag-
nostic testing, including ultra-
sounds, echocardiograms and
nerve conduction studies that
were used to diagnose heart
defects, blood clots, abdominal
aortic aneurysms and other
serious medical conditions.
Technicians employed by the
company would travel to the
office of a primary care physi-
cian in the New York and New
Jersey area to conduct diagnos-
tic testing, then sending the
tests to a “reading physician”—
a specialist who would interpret
the results. After the reading
physician prepared a report, the
Patels' companies were respon-
sible for providing it to the
referring physician. Biosound
and Heart Solutions were paid
millions of dollars by Medicare
and other payors for the diag-
nostic testing, the reading
physician’s interpretation of the
results and the reports.
Kirtish Patel admitted to,
from October 2008 through
June 2014, fraudulently inter-
preting and writing diagnostic
reports produced by the two
companies despite having no
medical license and knowing
that the reports would be used
by the referring physicians to
make important patient treat-
ment decisions.
Nita Patel admitted assisting
her husband in forging physi-
cian signatures on the fraudu-
lently produced reports to make
them appear legitimate. Nita
and Kirtish Patel also admitted
falsely representing to Medicare
that the neurological testing
performed by their companies
was being supervised by a
licensed neurologist.
According to the informa-
tions, more than half of the
diagnostic reports generated by
their companies between
October 2008 and June 2014
were never actually reviewed or
interpreted by a physician. Nita
and Kirtish Patel were paid
more than $4,386,133.75 by
Medicare and private insurance
companies for the fraudulent
reports, which they used for
personal expenses, including
multiple residences and luxury
Jersey Couple Admits To $4.3 Million Healthcare Fraud
By a StaffWriter
federal judge sen-
tenced an Indian-
American doctor from
Oak Brook, Illinois, to two
years in prison for illegally
receiving benefits in
exchange for referring elder-
ly patients to Sacred Heart
Hospital on Chicago’s West
Dr. Venkateswara R. "V.R."
Kuchipudi, 69, was one of
ten defendants convicted in
the multi-year investigation
of the now-shuttered hospi-
tal at 3240 W. Franklin Blvd.
in Chicago. From 2001
through April 2013, Sacred
Heart executives conspired
to pay kickbacks and bribes
to physicians to induce them
to refer patients for services
that would be reimbursed by
Medicare and Medicaid, a
press release from the
Justice Department says.
The scheme earned Sacred
Heart millions of dollars in
reimbursements from
Medicare and Medicaid.
Dr. Kuchipudi, was con-
victed in March on one
count of conspiracy to
defraud the United States,
and nine counts of illegally
soliciting or receiving bene-
fits in return for referrals of
patients covered under a
federal health care program.
U.S. District Judge Matthew
F. Kennelly imposed the sen-
tence Aug. 12, in federal
court in Chicago.
Eight people have already
been convicted in connec-
tion with this fraud. Sacred
Heart closed in 2013 in the
aftermath of a federal law
enforcement search of the
hospital and the arrests of
principal executives and Dr.
Prosecutors showed evi-
dence during the five-week
trial that Dr. Kuchipudi was
one of Sacred Heart’s most
prolific sources of patient
referrals. In exchange for his
referrals, Sacred Heart pro-
vided Dr. Kuchipudi with
free labor in the form of a
physician, physician assis-
tants and nurse practition-
ers. The free labor was pro-
vided not only inside Sacred
Heart but also in Chicago-
area nursing homes where
many of Dr. Kuchipudi’s
patients stayed. Sacred
Heart allowed Dr. Kuchipudi
to bill Medicare and
Medicaid for the services of
the physician assistants and
nurse practitioners as if he
employed them himself.
Illinois Doctor Sentenced
For Kickback Scheme At
Chicago Hospital
Oscar Morel appears for an arraignment at the Queens Criminal Court for his alleged involvement in the murder
of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin in Queens, New York, on August 16.
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