Cardiologist who billed 28 hours of exams in a single day cops to fraud

April 17, 2024
by HealthCare Business News
A New Jersey cardiologist has pleaded guilty to engaging in a health care fraud scheme that resulted in over $1.9 million in false insurance claims. Dr. Fazal Panezai, owner of the Matawan-Aberdeen Heart & Medical Center in Morganville, entered his plea in federal court, acknowledging his role in defrauding multiple health insurance benefit programs.

U.S. attorney Philip R. Sellinger of the District of New Jersey detailed that Panezai, 76, billed insurers for nonexistent office visits and for appointments that purportedly took place over unrealistic lengths of time. In one instance, he submitted claims indicating he had conducted office visits totaling approximately 27.9 hours in a single day. Additional fraudulent activities included billing for consultations while he was abroad and charging for patient interactions that never extended beyond prescription pickups at his practice's front desk.

These fraudulent claims prompted insurers to issue reimbursement payments, with Panezai benefiting from the accrued profits. The investigation, spearheaded by FBI agents under the direction of special agent in charge James E. Dennehy and supported by the Matawan Police Department, led to Panezai's guilty plea.

Panezai now faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine that could reach $250,000 or double the amount of the gain or loss from the fraud, whichever is greater. His sentencing is scheduled for August 20, 2024.

Assistant U.S. attorney DeNae Thomas of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark is representing the government in the case.