STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mississippi doctor gets 4 years in health care fraud scheme

A federal judge has sentenced a Mississippi doctor to four years in prison for his role in a health care fraud scheme.

Posted: Jun 17, 2020 2:28 PM

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Mississippi doctor to four years in prison for his role in a health care fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday that U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett handed down the sentence against Dr. Shahjahan Sultan, 38, of Madison, and ordered him to pay restitution of $4.1 million to Express Scripts, $582,280 to CVS Caremark and $115,611 to Catamaran.

A $2.3 million money judgment also was imposed against Sultan, who formerly practiced in Vicksburg. According to Sultan’s attorney, former state Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae, at least $4 million has already been repaid.

News outlets reported that Sultan pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to commit health care fraud after he and co-conspirators were accused in a 15-count indictment of prescribing millions of dollars of unnecessary compound pain creams and weight-loss pills to patients for reimbursement from May 2014 to January 2015. The court held Sultan responsible for $8 million in intended losses to health care providers.

Sultan apologized during the sentencing hearing.

“I was an idiot, pardon my harsh language,” he said. “This has been a monkey on my back. I want this all to go away, but it never goes away.”

Sultan also warned other young doctors not to fall for something that sounds too good to be true.

“I lost just about everything,” he said. “But I’m not the victim here. Thinking that you’re part of the problem — it’s a hard pill to swallow.”

Prosecutors said Sultan entered into a contract with a Jackson County pharmacy in May 2014 to prescribe individuals expensive compound medications. In return, the pharmacy would pay Sultan 35% of the reimbursements it received after billing health care providers for the prescriptions Sultan wrote, according to the authorities.

Sultan employed others to identify people in places like Jones County whose insurance covered the medications. The doctor met with those people over video-chat sessions but did not perform thorough examinations or determine the medical necessity of the compound medications he prescribed. Prosecutors said Sultan was aware that some added ingredients to the medications he prescribed were not effective and were introduced for the purpose of increasing the reimbursement value. He was also accused of calling in compound medications for people he had not examined.

A Tennessee doctor, Thomas Edward Sturdavant, 56, and two Mississippi registered nurses, Freda Covington, 54, of Hattiesburg, and Fallon Page, 36, of Soso, were indicted with Sultan.

Sturdavant and Covington each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Sturdavant is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22, while Covington's sentence is set for June 24. Page pleaded guilty to mail fraud and sentencing is set for July 7.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 48°
Columbus
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 52°
Oxford
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 40°
Starkville
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 50°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather