Indian-American doctor gets 15-year jail

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WASHINGTON - An Indian-American doctor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $43 million after he pleaded guilty to health care fraud and conspiracy.

The Kemah, Texas-based doctor Arun Sharma’s wife Kiran Sharma, also a doctor, has also pleaded guilty to the same charges and will be sentenced Feb 23, according to Houston Chronicle. She is currently being held at the Federal Detention Center in Houston.

After his sentencing Tuesday by US District Judge David Hittner, Arun Sharma was remanded back in the custody of the US Marshals, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors alleged that the husband-wife doctor team conspired from 1998 to 2009 to fraudulently bill Medicare, Medicaid and private health care providers for joint injections that never were performed.

At the same time, they were running a “pill mill” in which they prescribed controlled substances to nearly every patient they saw, they said.

“Arun Sharma was known as an easy touch for prescribing the ‘pain cocktail’ of hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma,” US Attorney Jose Angel Moreno said.

“As time went on, the doctor began prescribing stronger narcotics such as Oxycontin, morphine, methadone and fentanyl patches.”

The number of patients that the Sharmas saw quickly escalated from an average of 50 a day to as high as 279 per day, authorities said.

During the 10-year operation, the Sharmas operated multiple medical clinics under the name Allergy, Asthma, Arthritis Pain Centre, with principal locations in Baytown and Webster.

Among the items Sharmas must forfeit: Their $700,000 home in Kemah, numerous parcels of real property, more than $700,000 in cash found inside their home, more than $800,000 in cash found in two safe deposit boxes and investment accounts funded with fraudulently-gained money.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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