Psychiatrist Naseem Chaudhry, former psychiatric hospital director, pleads guilty in patient "kickback" fraud scheme

April 19, 2010

Corrupt Chicago doctor Roland Borrasi told co-workers he made cash payoffs to one of Illinois' most prominent nursing home operators in exchange for access to a lucrative pool of patients, according to federal investigative reports obtained by the Tribune.

The nursing home operator, Philip Esformes, vehemently denies the allegation.

Lynn Madeja, Borrasi's medical biller and mistress, told government agents that Borrasi had said: "I got to give Philip $1,000 or $10,000." To use Esformes' patients, Borrasi told her, he "had to make it up" with cash, said Madeja, who assisted authorities in their investigation. Borrasi said "it was Esformes' way or no way," Madeja's statement said.

In addition, the medical director of the now-shuttered Rock Creek Center psychiatric hospital, Dr. Naseem Chaudhry, told federal agents about a conversation in which Borrasi allegedly said he was upset because Rock Creek owed him $200,000. "He was concerned because he needed to give half of it to Esformes," Chaudhry said. Chaudhry pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of health care fraud.

Federal prosecutors, who last year secured the conviction of Borrasi for taking more than $500,000 in kickbacks from Rock Creek, did not specify which nursing home operators Borrasi allegedly paid, and Borrasi declined to speak with the Tribune.

Abhin Singla, a member of Borrasi's medical group who was an unindicted co-conspirator and cooperated with federal agents to wear a wire, told authorities, "Esformes controls the flow of patients in and out of his nursing homes to ensure that he is receiving the maximum allowed benefit."

Singla alleged he was with Borrasi in March 2001 when Esformes called and told Borrasi to admit at least five nursing home patients to various hospitals. Borrasi quickly did so without asking about their conditions.

Borrasi told Singla "someone would find something wrong with the patients to justify the admissions," Singla said.

Singla told the Tribune he stepped forward to help the government because he was appalled by the "fraudulent use of public health care dollars and compromise to patient care."

Esformes, who operates nursing homes Florida as well as Illinois, issued a statement saying he "unequivocally denies being ... involved in any impropriety with Dr. Borrasi or others."

Source: David Jackson and Gary Marx, "Convicted doctor links big nursing home operator to kickback scheme, according to U.S. probe," Chicago Tribune, April 18, 2010.


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