Indian-American physician in California sentenced for Medicare fraud and illegal opioid prescriptions

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A former Los Angeles-area physician was sentenced Jan. 6, 2019, to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release for engaging in a multi-faceted Medicare fraud scheme and for illegally prescribing thousands of opioid painkillers and muscle relaxers.

Kain Kumar, 56, of Palmdale, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of the Central District of California, who also ordered Kumar to pay $509,365 in restitution, $494,900 in asset forfeiture, and a $72,000 fine, the U.S. Justice Department said in a press release.

Kumar pleaded guilty on April 4, 2019, to one count of health care fraud and one count of distribution of hydrocodone.

As part of his guilty plea, Kumar admitted that from February 2011 until May 2016, he defrauded the Medicare health care benefit program by prescribing unnecessary home health services in exchange for the payment of illegal kickbacks to him from a La Verne, California-based home health agency called Star Home Health Resources Inc.

Kumar further admitted he submitted false claims for reimbursement to Medicare for Medicare beneficiaries that he did not personally examine or for patients he only briefly examined. he further admitted that he prescribed drugs that were not medically necessary and which were paid for by the Medicare Part D program.

Between February 2013 and January 2016, Kumar admitted he prescribed 23,826 pills of the opioid drug hydrocodone (commonly sold under the brand names Vicodin or Norco) and 38,459 pills of the muscle-relaxer carisoprodol (sold under the brand name Soma) without a legitimate medical purpose.

Kumar directed his office staff – who were not medical professionals – to issue prescriptions for these drugs to patients even though Kumar had not examined the patients, he admitted, providing his employees with pre-signed prescriptions.

Kumar was charged along with Errol Lat, 75, Thelma Lat, 74, Elaine Lat, 49, all of Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Corinne Chavez, 36, of Rosamond, California, in a second superseding indictment returned on July 2017. All co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

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