A federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted the owner of a North Side medical clinic for dispensing prescription painkillers to patients he knew did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs.
Mohammed Shariff, the owner and manager of Midtown Medical Center in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, conspired with a physician and a physician assistant to sell prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other medications to patients they knew did not have a medical reason for taking the drugs, according to a 16-count indictment returned in federal court in Chicago. In some instances the patients received prescriptions without a meaningful physical examination or medical test being performed, while at other times the physician, THEODORE GALVANI, saw multiple individuals at the same time before writing the prescriptions, according to the indictment. On some occasions, according to the indictment, Shariff directed Galvani to prescribe painkillers to individuals with whom Galvani had never met.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $584,188 from Shariff, Galvani and the physician assistant, IRFAN MOHAMMED, and an additional $180,268 from only Shariff.
Shariff, 66, of Lincolnwood, pleaded not guilty today during an arraignment before U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in Chicago. Galvani, 59, of Spring Grove, and Mohammed, 37, of Rockville, Md., will appear for arraignments at a future date to be determined by the Court.
The indictment was returned earlier this month and unsealed today. It charges Shariff, Mohammed and Galvani with one count of conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally dispense controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Shariff and Mohammed are also charged with eight counts of knowingly and intentionally dispensing oxycodone outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, and six counts of dispensing hydrocodone outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Shariff and Galvani are also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the indictment, purported Midtown patients often met with Mohammed prior to seeing Galvani. During these meetings, Mohammed encouraged the individuals to tell Galvani that they suffered from ailments and injuries that Mohammed had fabricated for them, the indictment states. Mohammed also falsified medical files in an effort to substantiate the prescriptions written by Galvani, the indictment states.
If a purported Midtown patient was uninsured, Shariff, Mohammed and Galvani demanded a cash payment in exchange for the prescriptions, according to the indictment. For patients covered by Medicare, Shariff and Galvani allegedly agreed to falsely bill Medicare for services that were either not rendered or not medically necessary. The indictment states that Shariff, Galvani and others working on their behalf caused Midtown to fraudulently bill Medicare approximately $351,958.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in- Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The conspiracy count against all three defendants carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Each count of dispensing oxycodone is punishable by up to 20 years, while the counts for dispensing hydrocodone and the health care conspiracy are each punishable by up to ten years.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Flanagan.