The Indian-American owner and operator of a Hamilton, Ohio, pain clinic was sentenced in U.S. District Court Oct. 6, 2020, for illegally distributing controlled substances, committing health care fraud and violating the anti-kickback statute.
Nilesh Jobalia, 55, of Cincinnati, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2.2 million in restitution to Medicaid, Medicare and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Quoting from court documents, the press release said Jobalia owned and operated Cincinnati Centers for Pain Relief in Hamilton, Ohio from March 2013 through December 2017. Although the practice was not licensed as such, it operated almost exclusively as a pain clinic.
Patients were prescribed fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, morphine and other controlled substances on many occasions without actually being seen by the doctor, the investigation revealed.
Jobalia’s practice also billed Medicare, Medicaid and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for medically unnecessary prescriptions and services not rendered.
For example, prescriptions to one customer alone caused the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to pay more than $450,000 for medically unnecessary drugs, the press release said.
In total, Jobalia caused more than $2 million in false claims.
Jobalia also received more than $103,000 from a pharmaceutical company for purported speaking engagements about a fentanyl spray, a medication intended for breakthrough cancer pain.
The speaking engagements were actually sham programs, though, in which many attendees were not medical professionals permitted to prescribe the fentanyl spray, the findings presented in court say. Usually, Jobalia, some of his staff and the pharmaceutical sales representative were the only people present at the engagements, which were held at fine dining restaurants in the Cincinnati area.
Jobalia was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2018 and pleaded guilty in September 2019.