Two Lincolnwood Doctors Charged with Healthcare Fraud
Two Lincolnwood doctors were charged in connection with an alleged kickback scheme involving a Chicago home healthcare agency. The doctors allegedly received cash in exchange for Medicare referrals, officials said Wednesday.
Two Lincolnwood doctors – along with eight other defendants - were charged on Wednesday after allegedly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in a kickback scheme dating back to 2006, according to U.S. States Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
Dr. Farzana Begum, 57, of Lincolnwood, allegedly received approximately $324,000 in kickbacks in exchange for Medicare patient referrals to a healthcare agency in Chicago from 2006 through 2011. She was charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive kickbacks and three counts of violating the anti-kickback law.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauzia Lodhi, 50, also of Lincolnwood, was charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive kickbacks and four counts of violating the anti-kickback law, according to officials. Lodhi allegedly received about $77,700 in cash kickbacks from the same healthcare agency Begum did business with, Fitzgerald said in a press release.
Both doctors are internists who practice medicine in the Lincolnwood area, with Lodhi’s facility located at 6374 Lincoln Ave.
In one case, Maria Buendia and Nixon Encinares, owners of Grand Home HealthCare, Inc. in Chicago, allegedly engaged in a fraud scheme involving payment of more than $1.1 million in cash kickbacks to doctors and social workers in exchange for the referral of Medicare patients to Grand Home HealthCare. Fauzia and Begum are alleged to have sold Medicare referrals to Grand Home Healthcare, federal law enforcement officials said.
A federal grand jury returned the charges on Wednesday in two separate indictments announced by States Attorney Fitzgerald and Lamont Pugh, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The payment of kickbacks in the healthcare arena is illegal. Kickbacks inappropriately influence those involved in the medical decision-making process and often times result in medically unnecessary or poor quality services being provided,” Pugh said. “As evidenced by today’s indictments, the OIG and our law enforcement partners will not stand by and allow Medicare beneficiaries to be used as pawns for profit.”
A total of 10 defendants will be arraigned at a date to be announced, the states attorney’s office said.