03 May Westlake Dentist Sentenced For Role In MetroHealth Fraud
WESTLAKE, OH — A Westlake man was sentenced to prison this week for his role in a conspiracy to defraud MetroHealth Hospital System. Three other men have already been sentenced for the fraud.
Yazan B. Al-Madani, 35, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison on Thursday. The three other men also sentenced to prison for the conspiracy were: Sari Alqsous, 35, of Cleveland; Tariq Sayegh, 39, of Cleveland; and former MetroHealth Chief Operating Officer Edward Hills, 59. All four men were found guilty after a multi-week trial last year.
“These defendants stole from a hospital that serves the most needy in our community,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “These prison sentences underscore that people who abuse positions of trust to enrich themselves will be held accountable for their crimes.”
Hills was MetroHealth’s Chief Operating Officer and served as interim President and Chief Executive Officer from December 2012 to July 2013. During that time, the DOJ said, Hills accepted bribes including cash, checks, a $3,879 Louis Vuitton briefcase, a 55-inch TV, airline flights, and use of a downtown Cleveland apartment.
In exchange for the bribes, Hills allowed Alqsous, Al-Madani and Sayegh to work at their private dental practices when they were supposed to be at MetroHealth, according to the Department of Justice. During the trials, investigators presented evidence of these bribes in the form of text messages and meetings at expensive restaurants, which resulted in cash being deposited into Hills’ bank accounts.
The three dentists also used their positions of power to accept bribes, and funnel a portion of those bribes to Hills, in exchange for making it into the MetroHealth Dental Residency. Each year, the hospital system receives approximately 40 to 60 applications for just four to six residencies in its dental program.
For six years, between 2008 and 2014, the three dentists would target candidates from Jordan and tell them they had to pay a “donation” to the hospital in order to be considered for the residency. The donation had to be paid to the dentists, according to prosecutors. The Department of Justice said the dentists would even tell candidates that a portion of the money would be given to Hills.
Hills also led MetroHealth clients to the private practices of the three dentists, according to the DOJ. Hills was also convicted of filing false tax returns, according to the DOJ, and failed to claim $165,751 from his kickbacks.
“Today’s sentencing marks the end of this major health care fraud case that had such a negative impact on our community. These defendants conspired to misuse their position of trust for their own personal gain and obstructed justice by telling witnesses to not to cooperate with law enforcement and this is what ultimately lead to the downfall of these defendants,” said William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “These types of investigations are often solved most efficiently through a multiple-agency approach to crime fighting.”