Three charged in prescription fraud scheme in Troy

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published August 23, 2023

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TROY — A pharmacist, a doctor and a pharmacy technician have been charged for their alleged roles in a health care fraud scheme of more than $7 million.

The defendants are Samer N. Youssef, 56, of Troy; Dr. Daoud Faraj, 52, of Dearborn; and Houda Bazzi, 34, of Dearborn. Youssef and Bazzi were listed by the U.S. Department of Justice as also residing in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida.

Prosecutors claim that Youssef, a licensed pharmacist, worked with other people to identify expensive “specialty” drugs that he could resell. “Specialty” drugs are prescription medications that treat less-common conditions or have other unique features, and prescriptions for those drugs are usually filled by specialty pharmacies, not regular retail pharmacies, so they are thus generally more expensive than most prescription medications. Some of the specialty drugs identified in the indictment were meant to treat cystic fibrosis and relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Youssef allegedly worked with several physicians in southeast Michigan, including Faraj, to write medically unnecessary prescriptions for the specialty drugs Youssef wanted. Faraj wrote the medically unnecessary prescriptions in the names of fake patients who were individuals Youssef, Bazzi or Faraj knew, including Medicare beneficiaries, and in the names of Youssef and Bazzi themselves, who were covered by Blue Care Network, according to prosecutors.

The defendants allegedly arranged for the medically unnecessary drugs to be shipped to addresses in southeast Michigan that were under their control. Prosecutors allege that Youssef, Faraj and Bazzi caused Medicare and Blue Care Network to be billed for the medically unnecessary specialty medications. Medicare and Blue Care Network then paid for the specialty medications, which Youssef, Bazzi and others allegedly sold and shipped to domestic and foreign businesses at 100% profit. Prosecutors say that they ran this scheme between 2016 and 2021.

“These licensed health care professionals are alleged to have defrauded Medicare and private insurers of millions of dollars and lined their own pockets with funds meant to provide essential services to seniors and disabled individuals,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a press release. “My office is committed to prosecuting any medical professional who attempts to exploit taxpayer-funded programs or private insurers.”

The charges against Youssef, Faraj and Bazzi include one count of health care fraud conspiracy and 15 counts of health care fraud – aiding and abetting. Youssef is also charged with 12 counts of money laundering.

“These defendants allegedly compromised the integrity of the healthcare systems by taking millions of dollars that should have gone to providing quality care to patients with true medical needs,” Devin J. Kowalski, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, said in a press release. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will not relent in our efforts to investigate and bring to justice anyone who engages in this type of criminal behavior.”

Faraj’s attorney, James Burdick, could not be reached for comment prior to press time. Youssef and Bazzi did not have attorneys listed in court records at the time of publication.