GREENBELT, Md. (WJLA) - A federal grand jury has indicted a husband and wife in Maryland for medical fraud, to the tune of $2.3 million.
Doctors Paramjit Ajrawat, 60, and his wife Sukhveen Ajrawat, 56, both of Potomac, are accused of over-billing their patients, and then collecting insurance payouts from government agencies like Medicare and Medicaid.
The couple has owned and operated the Washington Pain Management Center in Greenbelt since 1985. P. Ajrawat treated patients for physical ailments, while his wife, a board-certified psychiatrist, handled clients with mental concerns.
According to a ten-page, 16-count indictment, the Ajrawats routinely performed low cost medical procedures, but then billed insurance providers for operations that netted higher reimbursements. For instance, prosecutors have accused the Ajrawats of submitting hundreds of claims for epidurals, when in fact they'd given clients a less intensive injection using lidocaine.
The alleged false billing, which went on from Aug. 2008 through May 2014, bilked $2,329,109 from Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and the Office of Workers' Compensation Program.
On Friday, P. Ajrawat surrendered himself to the U.S. District Court District of Maryland for his initial appearance. His wife, who is currently hospitalized with a serious blood infection, is scheduled to surrender herself Monday.
During court proceedings, federal prosecutors said an independent auditor first noted an exorbitant number of epidural claims stemming from the Ajrawat's clinic. During an in-person visit to their office, S. Ajrawat reportedly told investigators they couldn't see the epidural machine because it was in a screening room with a patient. S. Ajrawat later sent investigators a lease agreement for the couple's epidural system, however prosecutors say that document was clearly forged.
A handful of agencies launched an investigation into the Ajrawats, which included interviewing the couple's patients and employees. Federal prosecutors say most of the patients were unaware of the over-billing. Many of the workers stated the Ajrawats had instructed them to lie to police.
Following court Friday, P. Ajrawat used his defense attorney as a human shield while walking from the courthouse door to his black Mercedes Benz SUV parked in a nearby lot.
Reporter: "Doctor, do you have a comment about the allegations that you're facing, I know there are 16 counts in total."
Defense Attorney: "He does not."
ABC7 visited the Ajrawat's $1.5 million home along the 12100 block of Stoney Creek Road in Potomac. S. Ajrawat's mother, currently visiting from India, answered the door:
"Oh she is a very hard-working person, a very honest person, and we're shocked."
In late April, a legion of federal authorities raided the couple's home. Next-door-neighbor Susie Redmond recalls peering out her dining room window, and seeing the calamity.
"I look out and there's all this FBI, and they have guns drawn," Redmond remarked.
Redmond snapped photos with her iPhone while agents loaded black plastic tubs full of evidence, into a white unmarked minivan.
"I mean they've [the Ajrawats] always been outstanding people. I never knew anything was going on, nothing," Redmond added.
As of Friday, the Maryland Board of Physicians had not suspended or revoked either doctor's medical license.
The Ajrawats each face 16-counts of healthcare fraud. Every count carries a sentence of up to ten years in federal prison.