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Miss. doctor sentenced in health care fraud scheme

Gavel on sounding block
Gavel on sounding block(Source: Gray News)
Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 3:59 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A federal judge sentenced a Madison doctor Tuesday for his role in a multi-million dollar health care fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Senior U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett sentenced 37-year-old Dr. Shahjahan Sultan to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Sultan was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,102,634.65 to Express Scripts (TRICARE), $582,280.79 to CVS Caremark and $115,611.03 to Catamaran. A money judgement of more than $2.3 million was also imposed on Sultan.

Sultan pleaded guilty in November 2019 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud after he and co-conspirators were accused in a 15-count indictment of prescribing millions of dollars of unnecessary compound medications to patients for reimbursement from May 2014 to January 2015. The Court held Sultan responsible for $8 million in intended loss to health care providers.

According to prosecutors, Sultan entered into a contract with a Jackson County pharmacy in May 2014 to prescribe individuals expensive compound medications. In return, the pharmacy would pay Sultan 35% of the reimbursements it received after billing health care providers for the prescriptions Sultan wrote.

Sultan employed others to identify people in places like Jones County whose insurance covered the medications. The doctor met with these individuals over telemedicine video-chat sessions but did not perform thorough examinations or determine the medical necessity of the compound medications he prescribed.

Prosecutors said Sultan was aware that some added ingredients to the compound medications he prescribed were not effective and added for the purpose of increasing the reimbursement value. He was also accused of calling in compound medications for people he had not examined.

A Tennessee doctor, 56-year-old Thomas Edward Sturdavant, and two Mississippi registered nurses, 54-year-old Freda Cal Covington, of Hattiesburg, and 36-year-old Fallon Deneem Page, of Soso, were indicted with Sultan in June 2019.

Sturdavant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on the same day as Sultan and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22.

Covington pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24. Page pleaded guilty to mail fraud and sentencing is set for July 7.

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