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Post date: July 24 2003

Steuben County Physician Admits To $650,000 Insurance Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a physician with offices in Bath has admitted to stealing more than $650,000 from government and private health insurers by fraudulently billing for medical services never provided.

Dr. Azhar Tahir, a physician with offices at 7434 Route 54 in Bath, appeared yesterday for arraignment before Steuben County Court Judge Joseph W. Latham and pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Dr. Tahir will be sentenced on September 10 to six months’ shock probation (consisting of up to three months of weekend incarceration with the balance by electronic home monitoring), community service, and five years’ probation. Dr. Tahir will also make a total of $651,730 in restitution ($98,850 to the Medicaid program, $119,000 to the Medicare program, $388,384 to Excellus Health Plan, Inc., and $45,489 to the New York State Insurance Fund). If Dr. Tahir violates any conditions of the agreement, he could face up to seven years in prison.

"Health care fraud is a problem that affects all Americans," said Spitzer. "It not only undermines public confidence in such government programs as Medicaid and Medicare but drives up the cost of health care. Today’s action sends a clear message that my office is committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting those who commit such fraud."

According to the charges filed in the case, Dr. Tahir submitted numerous fake reimbursement claims to various health insurers between January 1998 and March 2003 in which he overstated the extent of medical services provided to patients. In fact, the services were either inflated or never provided.

Spitzer thanked the New York State Insurance Fund, Excellus Health Plan, Inc., and the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their assistance and cooperation during the course of the investigation.

Spitzer noted that his office will refer the matter to the State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct for a review of Dr. Tahir’s medical license.

Dr. Tahir, 52, lives at 304 East Lake Road in Hammondsport.

Special Assistant Attorney General Jerry M. Solomon, Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Rochester Regional Office, prosecuted the case. Assisting in the investigation were Supervising Special Investigator Douglas Hinchey, Senior Special Investigator Robert A. Andrews, Associate Auditor Investigator Thomas M. Clarke and Special Auditor Investigator Heather Helms.