The trial for the former owner of Shelby Regional Medical Center began yesterday in Tyler Federal Court. After being indicted in April of 2013 and charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and seven count of healthcare fraud, 61-year old Tariq Mahmood of Cedar Hill, who has denied wrongdoing, could face more than two decades in prison if convicted on all 15 fraud counts.
Mahmood had previously entered a guilty plea, but rescinded his plea on May 12. By using fraudulent billing practices, the defendant and his co-conspirators are alleged to have unlawfully submitted false claims Medicare and Medicaid of more than $1.1 million and obtained more than $375,000.
Taking the stand on the first day were two former employees at another of Mahmood’s facilties, the Renaissance Hospital in Terrell, Norma Longley and Cynthia Kennemer Plumlee.
Ms. Longley testified how she discovered her medical codes for Medicare reimbursements were being altered at another facility, and Ms. Plumlee said she was fired for refusing to allow Mahmood to be “involved” in reviewing the codes, saying it would have been a serious breach of professional ethics.
She said in 28 years, she had never been asked by a hospital owner or executive to be a part of the coding process.
Mahmood’s defense attorneys have filed a motion to have the jury decide a ‘good faith defense,’ and would like the U.S. Attorneys to prove intent to defraud beyond a reasonable doubt.