ALBANY, NEW YORK – Arshad Nazir, age 54, of Ticonderoga, New York, pled guilty today to conspiring to defraud Medicaid, and conspiring to pay bribes and kickbacks to Medicaid beneficiaries who used his medical transportation service. He admitted to causing at least $550,000 in losses, and to paying at least $95,000 in bribes and kickbacks.
The announcement was made by:
United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith;
James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Keith M. Corlett;
New York State Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott; and
Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly.
Today’s plea is the result of a state and federal investigation into Medicaid fraud committed by the owners and operators of medical transportation companies based in Essex County.
Nazir operated Capital Medallion, Inc. d/b/a Avalanche Taxi Service (“Avalanche Taxi”), a Medicaid-funded transportation company based in Ticonderoga. The New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) paid Nazir’s company at least $2.45 million for Medicaid-funded transportation between 2014 and 2018.
As part of his plea, Nazir admitted that he committed a variety of frauds against Medicaid and DOH, including: billing Medicaid and receiving payment for trips where beneficiaries drove themselves to their own medical appointments, and falsifying the identities of the drivers for those trips; billing Medicaid and receiving payment for roundtrips to and from medical appointments when the beneficiaries took only one-way trips with Avalanche Taxi; and falsifying pick-up and drop-off locations, in order to increase the purported distances traveled and therefore be able to claim and receive higher Medicaid payments.
Nazir also admitted that he agreed to pay kickbacks and bribes to Medicaid beneficiaries in order to get the beneficiaries to schedule and keep scheduling medical transportation appointments with Avalanche Taxi. Kickbacks included cash, cigarettes and tobacco, and free goods at Nazir’s convenience store in Ticonderoga.
Nazir faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years, when he is sentenced on June 18, 2019 by Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
Nazir has also agreed to pay $550,000 in restitution to the New York State Department of Health, and to plead guilty to charges of grand larceny and failure to secure workers’ compensation in a parallel case pending in Essex County Court, brought by the Rensselaer County District Attorney as Special Prosecutor.
Charges remain pending against several other defendants. Those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The federal charges are being investigated by the FBI and the New York State Police’s Special Investigations Unit, and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.
The state charges are being investigated by the New York State Police’s Special Investigations Unit, as well as the Office of the New York State Inspector General, and are being prosecuted by Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Carl Rosenkranz.
Additional agencies assisted in this investigation, including the United States Attorney’s Office-Civil Division; Essex County District Attorney’s Office; New York State Police-Troop B; the Office of the New York State Comptroller, Division of Investigations; New York State Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU); Essex County Sheriff’s Office; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG); and the New York State Department of Labor.