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: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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