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Columbus doctor indicted in nation’s largest health-care fraud investigation

A Columbus doctor has been indicted as part of the nation’s largest health-care fraud enforcement action by the federal government, according to a news release from the Food and Drug Administration late last month.

Columbus podiatrist Alap Shah, 44, was indicted on June 19 in the Southern District of Florida and charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health-care kickbacks and three counts of receiving health-care kickbacks.

Shah’s charges are part of a broader investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and includes 601 defendants across 58 federal districts, including 76 doctors, as well as nurses and other licensed medical professionals. They are accused of participating in health-care fraud schemes involving approximately $2 billion in false billings.

The schemes targeted Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE (a health insurance program for members and veterans of the armed forces and their families), and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries, according to the FDA release on June 28.

According to Shah’s indictment, he allegedly received kickback payments from PGRX, a Weston, Fla.-based business that recruited and paid doctors to prescribe compounded medications for TRICARE and private commercial insurance beneficiaries.

During the course of the conspiracy, the defendant and his co-conspirators allegedly signed false medical director and speaker agreements in order to conceal that PGRX was paying the defendant for writing prescriptions, according to the indictment. As a result of these prescriptions, TRICARE made payments to Atlantic Pharmacy, a pharmacy located in the Southern District of Florida.

A message left for Shah on his office phone at Foot and Ankle of West Georgia was not immediately returned Thursday morning.

Shah, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, has been practicing in Columbus for 16 years. Shah was recruited to Columbus in 2002 by James Joseph Bartley Jr., who died in 2012 as the result of a small plane crash in Mississippi.