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Pound Ridge Dentist Charged in $20 Million Medicaid Scheme

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – A Pound Ridge dentist was arrested Thursday on federal charges related to his alleged involvement in a $20 million Medicaid fraud scheme.

David B. Fein, United States attorney for the District of Connecticut, said Mehran Zamani, DDS, 47, and his partner Gary F. Anusavice, 59, were arrested Thursday morning on a federal criminal complaint charging them with conspiring to commit health care fraud, committing health care fraud, and making false statements involving federal health care programs. Zamani was arrested at his Pound Ridge home and Anusavice was arrested at his home in North Kingstown, R.I. Both appeared Thursday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn.

“As alleged, these operators of dental practices throughout Connecticut defrauded the Medicaid program of more than $20 million over a two-year period,” Fein said

Susan Waddell, special agent in charge of U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for New England said although Anusavice was barred from Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs back in 1998, he allegedly continued to commit fraud by using an elaborate shield of companies and individuals, including Zamani, to hide his involvement.

According to court documents, Anusavice was previously a registered dentist in several states. In July 1997, he sustained a felony conviction in Massachusetts for submitting false health care claims. Based on that conviction, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified Anusavice in April 1998 he was being excluded from participation in Medicare and state health care programs, including Medicaid.

The criminal complaint alleges Anusavice established several dental practices in Connecticut, which were operated by other dentists, including Zamani. According to the complaint, the practices received millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements from the Connecticut Medicaid program, although payments were prohibited due to Anusavice’s exclusion from the Medicaid program.

The dental practices allegedly operated by Anusavice and Zamani included Landmark Dental in West Haven, Dental Group of Connecticut in Trumbull, and Dental Group of Stamford.

It is alleged Anusavice hired Zamani at Landmark Dental in October 2008 and Zamani soon became aware of Anusavice’s disciplinary history. The complaint alleges that in January 2009, Zamani submitted an application to obtain a Medicaid provider number for Mehran Zamani LLC, listing his group practice name as Landmark Dental. The complaint further states in May 2009, Zamani submitted an application for a Medicaid provider number for Landmark Dental and in the applications Zamani submitted, he allegedly failed to disclose Anusavice had an ownership or control interest in Landmark Dental, even though Zamani knew Anusavice was running the practice and profited from it. From approximately February 2009 to March 2011, Mehran Zamani LLC and Landmark Dental received more than $12.9 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

It is further alleged that in April 2009, Zamani and “Haven Consulting,” an entity Anusavice created, entered into a consulting contract with the Dental Group of Stamford, a practice Zamani previously operated. From approximately June 2009 to March 2011, the Dental Group of Stamford received more than $4.4 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

The complaint also alleges Zamani’s April 2010 application for a Medicaid provider number for the Dental Group of Connecticut also failed to disclose Anusavice’s involvement in the practice. From approximately August 2010 to March 2011, the Dental Group of Connecticut received more than $3.5 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

The complaint states on April 13, 2011, the Department of Social Services suspended Medicaid payments to Mehran Zamani, DDS, Landmark Dental, Dental Group of Stamford, and Dental Group of Connecticut based upon the pending fraud investigation. As a result, the last Medicaid payment to these businesses occurred on or about March 22, 2011. By that time, it is alleged the Anusavice-Zamani entities had collectively received nearly $21 million in Medicaid reimbursement funds.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office provided assistance and cooperation throughout the investigation.

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