A former Frederick-based doctor was sentenced to eight years in federal prison after being convicted of health care fraud and tax evasion.
Atif Babar Malik, a Germantown resident, received the punishment at a sentencing hearing Tuesday before U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar in Baltimore. Malik, 49, previously ran the Advanced Pain Management Services practice in Frederick with a partner.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Malik told the court Tuesday. “The last eight months in the Chesapeake Detention Facility have made me realize what is important, like my family, my community. I want to correct my mistakes.”
Malik was convicted in 2017 of 25 counts related to receiving kickbacks, fraudulent billing and tax evasion. He was one of six medical professionals indicted on charges related to the same schemes.
According to prosecutors, Malik’s practice received more than $1.3 million in kickbacks for referring patients to Accu Reference medical lab for urinalysis. Accu Reference billed Medicare and private insurers for $4.4 million in claims for patients referred by Advanced Pain from April 2011 to July 2012 and passed some of the profits on to Malik and his partners.
Malik ran Advanced Pain with co-owner Sandeep Sherlekar, also of Germantown. Sherlekar was indicted on similar charges as Malik, but the charges were dropped after his death in October 2016.
Advanced Pain Chief Financial Officer Vic Wadhwa, of Frederick, pleaded guilty to violating the Anti-Kickback Act. Wadhwa is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 26. Advanced Pain CEO Muhammad Khan, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and engage in kickback schemes. Khan is a fugitive, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Accu Reference owner Konstantin Bas and marketing agent Mubtagha Syed both have pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Act. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Advanced Pain also submitted falsified bills to Medicare and private insurers. Between January 2010 and summer 2012, the practice billed insurers for services allegedly performed by two physicians when only one physician had performed services, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
A jury found Malik guilty after a 13-day trial in October 2017.
In June of this year, Malik also pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge. He failed to report more than $3.3 million in income to the IRS between 2009 and 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
More than a dozen of Malik’s family members, former patients and friends attended the sentencing Tuesday.
Malik’s wife, Megan Malik, asked Bredar to consider alternatives to prison, such as home detention and community service, that could allow Malik to be with his family and contribute to society. Malik has a history of both donating to charity as well as traveling to Iraq and Pakistan to practice medicine, she said.
“Atif is selfless,” she said. “I’ve known his generosity to be bottomless. ... Why waste his brilliant mind in prison?”
The Rev. Chuck Turner, the chaplain at the Chesapeake Detention Facility, told Bredar he has come to know Malik during his pretrial detention. Malik has been helping other inmates with reading and writing, Turner said.
“I’ve seen him turn something that could be very negative into something positive,” Turner said. “He is an exceptional man. He turned his fears and doubts into hope and help for those around him.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson Gray, who prosecuted the case, recommended Bredar sentence Malik to 102 months in prison. Malik’s crimes showed a lack of honesty to his country, profession and patients, Gray said.
Bredar sentenced Malik to 96 months (eight years) in federal prison in Cumberland, followed by three years of supervised probation. Malik will also have to pay a $75,000 fine, $175,000 in restitution and forfeit $241,976.
“The bottom line is this case is about dishonesty,” Bredar said. “Dr. Malik, through his conduct, revealed himself to be dishonest.”