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Doctor Pleads Guilty in Fraud

Man faces up to 16 years in prison for Medi-Cal scam that may have cost state $11 million. He served time in New York for a similar crime.

January 06, 2003|Jeffrey Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

A physician twice convicted of health-care fraud in New York has pleaded guilty to four felonies related to a similar Medi-Cal scam in California involving the theft of millions from the state's system of health care for the poor.

Surinder Singh Panshi pleaded guilty Friday in Orange County Superior Court to one count of conspiracy and three counts of tax evasion. He is facing 11 to 16 years in state prison when he is sentenced May 23.

Panshi admitted defrauding Medi-Cal of more than $2.5 million. Investigators, however think that he and his associates bilked the system out of $11 million, said Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer.

Panshi waived extradition and will face money-laundering charges in New Jersey related to the California scheme.

Prosecutors said that 13 labs connected to Panshi's group submitted fake bills for thousands of tests authorized by two dozen doctors whose identities had been stolen. Linda Dizon, Panshi's girlfriend, who ran several labs, told investigators that in many cases they did not run the tests.

She said money from the scam was used to buy her $75,000 Porsche and a home in Diamond Bar. Dizon reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

In the late 1980s, Panshi's labs billed New York's Medicaid program $3.6 million for unnecessary tests performed on blood bought from drug addicts and the poor. A prosecutor called it "perhaps the largest and most nefarious [health fraud] ever perpetrated." He served five years in prison for the New York fraud cases.

On Friday, two others were sentenced for their parts in running four labs in the latest scam. Biall Ahmed was sentenced to three years in prison, and Saeed Ahmed was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

In addition, the labs were ordered to pay restitution ranging from $70,000 to $160,000 per lab, and the corporations were ordered dissolved.

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