MMA brawler taps out in $112M con­spir­acy

The Detroit News - - Metro - BY ROBERT SNELL The Detroit News

Detroit — A former heavy­weight mixed mar­tial artist and bare-knuckle brawler pleaded guilty Thurs­day for his role in a $112 mil­lion health-care fraud case in­volv­ing an al­li­ga­tor-wrestling doc­tor.

Josh Burns, 40, of Dex­ter, his elab­o­rate tat­toos and bulging mus­cles cov­ered by a pur­ple dress shirt, qui­etly an­swered “yes, ma’am” when ques­tioned by Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood about his role in one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. his­tory.

Burns ad­mit­ted fun­nel­ing kick­backs and bribes to Dr. Fran­cisco Patino in re­turn for re­fer­ring urine sam­ples for drug tests that cost Medi­care more than $2.6 mil­lion.

The former fighter faces up to

46 months in prison when sen­tenced April 9. He has agreed to pay $144,000 resti­tu­tion to the U.S.

De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man

Ser­vices. Burns has agreed to co­op­er­ate with the gov­ern­ment, which is pros­e­cut­ing Patino, 63, of Wood­haven. Patino was in­dicted in June, ac­cused of or­ches­trat­ing the con­spir­acy.

Pros­e­cu­tors por­trayed Patino as a con­niv­ing crook with lies as big as his bi­ceps, an al­li­ga­tor-wrestling, steroid-buy­ing fraud­ster who spent ill-got­ten gains on mixed mar­tial arts fighters and a diet pro­gram.

Patino is a ly­ing bully who hid mil­lions of dol­lars in off­shore bank ac­counts while threat­en­ing to “break the legs” of one as­so­ciate and en­trap­ping an­other with ex­otic dancers, pros­e­cu­tors said.

He is be­ing held with­out bond in a fed­eral prison in Mi­lan while await­ing trial in March.

Burns ad­mit­ted con­spir­ing with Patino and oth­ers to so­licit kick­backs and bribes in ex­change for or­der­ing urine drug tests from lab­o­ra­to­ries in Colorado and Ne­vada.

The Patino probe

is linked to a $200 mil­lion health care fraud case in­volv­ing busi­ness­man Mashiyat Rashid, who pros­e­cu­tors say spent his share of the scheme on a $7 mil­lion Franklin man­sion, court­side NBA tick­ets, a Lam­borgh­ini, Her­mes clothes and rare watches.

Rashid, 38, is ex­pected to plead guilty to un­spec­i­fied charges Mon­day in fed­eral court.

Dur­ing the Rashid in­ves­ti­ga­tion, fed­eral agents seized more than $21 mil­lion worth of cash and real es­tate and sig­naled Rashid’s man­sion should be for­feited to the gov­ern­ment. Rashid was listed as res­i­dent agent of Global Qual­ity on a state busi­ness fil­ing in 2011, ac­cord­ing to the Michi­gan De­part­ment of Li­cens­ing and Reg­u­la­tory Af­fairs.

The same fil­ing also lists Patino as com­pany pres­i­dent.

Global Qual­ity was part of a web of com­pa­nies Patino used in a scheme that de­frauded Medi­care by dis­tribut­ing opi­oids and ad­min­is­ter­ing ex­per­i­men­tal back in­jec­tions, the gov­ern­ment al­leges.

“He re­quired vul­ner­a­ble pa­tients to sub­mit to these in­jec­tions even if they didn’t need them or didn’t want them,” Jus­tice De­part­ment trial at­tor­ney Ja­cob Fos­ter said dur­ing a re­cent court hear­ing. “But he told them they had to have them if they wanted to ob­tain pain med­i­ca­tion.”

While in­ves­ti­ga­tors have frozen Patino’s bank ac­counts, mil­lions are miss­ing, the pros­e­cu­tor said.

“There are mil­lions of dol­lars un­ac­counted for, in­clud­ing over $2,190,562.84 in cash that has been with­drawn from fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions,” Fos­ter said.

There is a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion, Patino’s lawyer Brian Len­non said.

Patino’s pre­scrip­tion pads were stolen and peo­ple who were not his pa­tients re­ceived pre­scrip­tions by some­one us­ing his U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion num­ber, Len­non said.

“This in­dict­ment is full of mis­state­ments,” he said dur­ing a re­cent court hear­ing.

Josh Burns pleaded guilty Thurs­day in a fraud case.

Patino

Rashid

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