The Department of Justice announced federal charges against the owner of Spring Hill-based Crestar Labs, a self-described "diagnostic reference laboratory," who federal prosecutors allege was involved in a fraudulent Medicare billing scheme.
According to a news release by the United States Attorney's Office for Middle District of Tennessee, 53-year-old Fadel Alshalabi, of Waxhaw, N.C., who serves as both Crestar's owner and Chief Executive Officer, was charged with aiding and abetting as well as with violating the federal anti-kickback statute when he was arrested in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday.
Prosecutors allege that, as early as 2016, Alshalabi engaged in a scheme to pay illegal health care kickbacks in exchange for the solicitation of genetic tests from Medicare beneficiaries.
Prosecutors also allege that Alshalabi contracted with marketing companies to target and recruit elderly patients who were federal health care program beneficiaries in order to obtain those patient's genetic material in order to conducting genetic tests.
"Marketers, who were not health care professionals, obtained swabs from the mouths of the patients at nursing homes, senior health fairs, and elsewhere," the news release reads. "The tests were then approved by telemedicine doctors who did not engage in the treatment of the patients, and often did not even speak with the patients for whom they ordered tests. Often, the patients or their treating physicians never received the results of the tests."
Alshalabi allegedly then paid illegal kickbacks and bribes in exchange for the doctor’s orders and tests, without regard to any medical necessity. The DOJ alleges that from late 2017 to 2021, Crestar billed Medicare approximately $86 million for genetic testing and was paid almost $14 million for those Medicare claims.
Alshalabi, who prosecutors said owns associated labs Baltimore, Md., and Dallas, Texas, will be transported to Middle Tennessee to face those federal charges, which if found guilty, could result in up to 10 years in prison.