HOUSTON – Two Houston clinic owners are expected in federal court following the return of a 27-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, kickbacks and money laundering, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez along with Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) – Contract Fraud Investigations Division and Special Agent in Charge Steven Grell of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-OIG.
A grand jury returned the indictment Nov. 2, 2017, against Anukul Dass aka Andy Dass, 41, and his sister Anurag Dass aka Anna Dass, 46, both of Houston, along with Stephen Vincent Hunt, 67, formerly of Houston and now of Waxahachie. The Dass siblings are expected to make their appearances before U.S. Magistrate Nancy Johnson today at 10:00 a.m. Hunt turned himself in and made his initial appearance earlier this week.
Anukul and Anurag Dass operated A&A Pain and Wellness Center Inc. at 6600 Harwin Drive in Southwest Houston. From 2010 to 2017, the indictment alleges they filed false claims the Office of Worker Compensation Programs (OWCP) for patients that Hunt directed to the clinic. Hunt was allegedly a former injured employee with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) who filed his own injury claim with OWCP.
The Dass siblings allegedly conspired with Hunt for him to direct injured federal workers to A&A Pain and Wellness Center for medical treatment and health care services. In return, the indictment alleges Hunt would receive a fee as payment from the center for each claim OWCP paid. Hunt also allegedly charged injured federal workers he referred a fee for his representation and services through a company he controlled under the name “Zentec.”
Anna Dass was the manager of Clinical Operations at A&A, while Anukul Dass was the director, according to the indictment. Anna Dass allegedly filed false claims for services which were not performed or were “upcoded” and billed at a higher rate than services actually performed. From 2010 to 2017, A&A billed OWCP for more than $9.1 million. OWCP allegedly paid $7.2 million for those claims according to the allegations.
“We are gratified to have contributed to this investigation and applaud the exceptional work by the investigative team for both protecting patient safety and overall program costs,” said Pierce. “Along with our law enforcement partners, the USPS-OIG will continue to aggressively investigate those who engage in fraudulent activities intended to defraud federal benefit programs and the Postal Service.”
“An important mission of DOL-OIG is to investigate allegations of medical provider fraud in the OWCP,” said Grell. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations.”
If convicted of the conspiracy or the kickback allegations, each faces a penalty of up to five years in prison. The wire fraud carries a possible 20-year maximum sentence, while a conviction for money laundering could result in as much as 10 years imprisonment. All of the charges also carry a possible fine of $250,000.
USPS-OIG and DOL-OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cedric L. Joubert is prosecuting this case.