Indian-American gets 12 years jail term in healthcare fraud


Rakesh Jyoti Saran (47) of Arlington in Texas was sentenced on December 11 to 144 months in federal prison, said US Attorney James T Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. He was also asked to pay USD 68 million in restitution.

Saran, the last defendant to be sentenced in this case, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and other federal offences, two counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

He has been in federal custody since May 2009.

Saran was arrested in 2005 on charges outlined in a 201-count federal indictment which alleged that he and five co-defendants conspired from 1999 to 2005 to commit healthcare fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and to illegally distribute controlled substances in a drug diversion scheme.

According to plea papers filed in court, Saran operated 23 Texas-incorporated pharmacies through two firms he owned -- Carrington Healthcare Systems and Infinity Services Group.

Saran's pharmacies purchased expensive pharmaceuticals -- including addictive painkillers and psychiatric medications -- by fraudulently representing to the wholesalers that the drugs were for distribution to prisons, hospital and other facilities, according to the plea papers.

The pharmacies then distributed the drugs without valid doctors' prescriptions to Internet customers, drug users and others who paid up to four times the cost if the drugs had been obtained legally, authorities said.

Saran's co-defendants previously pleaded guilty, receiving prison terms ranging from 33 months to eight years.

As part of his plea agreement, Saran forfeited assets earned from his illegal activities, including more than USD 1,000,000 in cash seized at his residence, over USD 375,000 found in bank accounts, USD 390,000 in cashiers' checks and money orders, several vehicles and a home under construction in Arlington which was sold by the US Marshals Service for USD 1,200,000 through an Internet auction in May 2008.

Saran also used his pharmacies to operate a "store front" website designed to facilitate the distribution of controlled substances to internet customers.
Using the website, drug users illegally acquired controlled substances and dangerous drugs without valid prescriptions and without doctors' intervention, paying up to four times the actual cost.

Saran also used his pharmacies to fill pharmaceutical orders from other Internet Facilitation Centers (IFC) involved in the illegal distribution of dangerous drugs and controlled substances. Additionally, Saran also played an integral role in providing promethazine cough syrup with codeine, hydrocodone, and alprazolam to individuals who illegally sold these drugs "on the street," acquiring approximately USD 20 million in proceeds for doing so.

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