Former N.J. Doc Sentenced in Medicaid Fraud

October 25, 2004

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that a former Bergen County physician has been sentenced to state prison for his role in a scheme that defrauded the Medicaid Program out of more than $290,000. The scheme, which involved a physician, a pharmacist and the owner of a Newark pharmacy, submitting fraudulent prescriptions for medications that were never dispensed and used stolen patient identification numbers to bill Medicaid for services that were never provided.

Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, said that Dr. Axat Jani, 37, Fair Lawn, Bergen County, was sentenced on Oct. 15 to four years in state prison and fined $10,000 by Essex County Superior Court Judge Michael Nelson after pleading guilty to a charge of second degree Health Care Claims fraud. Judge Nelson also suspended Jani’s medical license and Medicaid privileges for one year and five years respectively.

According to Gooden-Brown, Jani, along with co-defendants Milton Barasch, 67, of Aberdeen, Monmouth County and Shahid Khawaja, 43, of New York City, were charged with Health Care Claims fraud via a State Grand Jury indictment returned on Nov. 8, 2002. Barasch, was a licensed pharmacist and Khawaja was the owner of the now defunct S. Brothers Pharmacy in Newark.

In pleading guilty before Judge Nelson on Jan. 7, 2003, Jani reportedly admitted that between January and October 1998, he wrote dozens of fraudulent prescriptions in the names of Medicaid beneficiaries who had visited his Newark-based clinic. Jani then provided the prescriptions, along with the patient Medicaid beneficiary numbers, to Khawaja and Barasch for a fee.

The indictment charged that S. Brothers Pharmacy then billed the Medicaid Program more than $293,815 for medications that were never dispensed or medications which were dispensed to persons using another person’s Medicaid recipient identification number. In some cases, phony bills were submitted to the Medicaid Program for medications prescribed for Medicaid recipients who had died years earlier.

Gooden-Brown said that Khawaja and Barasch previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges as a result of the State Grand Jury indictment. Khawaja pleaded guilty on Feb. 20 to financial facilitation of criminal activity (money laundering), while Barasch pleaded guilty on May 19 to Health Care Claims fraud.

Sentencing for both Khawaja and Barasch remains pending before Judge Nelson.

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