Health care fraud case ends with prison term, $24 million restitution, for BR doctor

Man ordered to pay back $24 million

Dr. Zahid Imran
Dr. Zahid Imran

A Baton Rouge psychiatrist was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $24 million in restitution Monday for his role in a sophisticated scheme that defrauded Medicare out of tens of millions of dollars for unnecessary and never-provided services.

Dr. Zahid Imran must report to prison by Sept. 29, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson said at the conclusion of Imran’s sentencing hearing.

After several people spoke on his behalf, the 56-year-old Imran apologized to the court, his family and the community and said he accepts responsibility for his actions. He pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

“At some point, things went wrong,” Imran said. “I’m a human being. I’m not an angel. Angels do not make mistakes. Human beings do.”

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Dustin Davis agreed that Imran “lost his way.”

“His desire to treat was overcome by his desire for money,” Davis argued, adding that Imran pocketed $1.9 million during the seven-year duration of the scheme.

Jackson called Imran’s criminal behavior shocking and said it was “motivated, strictly speaking, by greed.”

Imran was medical director of Shifa Community Mental Health Center on Goya Avenue and co-owned and operated Serenity Center on Lobdell Boulevard. He also co-owned a Shifa facility in Houston, court records show.

Federal prosecutors have said hundreds of people were bused into Baton Rouge from Memphis, Tennessee, and other locations to attend therapy sessions at Shifa and Serenity Center in Baton Rouge.

The clinics took advantage of the elderly, drug addicts and chronically mentally ill people by providing them with no services, inadequate services and clinically inappropriate services, prosecutors have said.

Hoor Naz Jafri, 54, of Baton Rouge, who was part owner of the two Baton Rouge clinics and the Texas clinic, was sentenced last week to more than eight years in federal prison and ordered to repay more than $43 million to the federal government.

Imran and Jafri were two of 17 people convicted in the wide-ranging probe that began in 2011.