Pharmacy owner in fraud case will remain in jail

DETROIT (AP) -- A judge concerned about cash sent overseas refused to release a Detroit-area pharmacy owner who is charged with leading a multimillion-dollar fraud involving prescription painkillers.

With family and many friends watching in court, Babubhai "Bob" Patel was ordered last Friday to remain in jail until trial.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow said someone with money could get "easy access to travel documents." Patel is a native of India and has wired roughly $500,000 there in the last six months.

The Canton Township man was recently charged with committing about $60 million in fraud by billing Medicare and Medicaid for painkillers that weren't necessary or never provided. It's described as a widespread scheme involving 25 others, including doctors.

The Detroit Free Press says Patel's attorney, Martin Crandall, explained why money was sent to India. He said most of it was for an investment there, not for "some sinister purpose."

Patel, 49, is vice chairman of the Canton Hindu temple. Many friends in the Hindu community told the judge they were willing to offer their homes as collateral, meaning they could lose them if Patel were released and then disappeared. They said they trusted him, but Tarnow wasn't swayed.

"I can't think of any condition that would ensure his presence," the judge said.

Published: Tue, Aug 16, 2011