WILMINGTON, Del. — A prominent Elkton doctor and property developer received a two-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence Friday, after previously pleading guilty in fraud cases late last year.
During a Nov. 30 hearing in U.S. District Court of Delaware, Zahid Aslam, 46, of Newark, Del., pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a financial institution, in connection with a fraudulent loan application, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Delaware.
On Friday, U.S. District of Delaware Judge Richard G. Andrews sentenced Aslam to a 30-month prison sentence and three years of supervised release following his release. Aslam had faced a maximum penalty of 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
His guilty plea may also lead to his deportation, according to federal court filings. Although he is a lawful permanent resident, Aslam is not a U.S. citizen. An immigration court hearing would make the determination. According to Maryland state records, he earned his medical degree in Pakistan.
Aslam, who at one time owned the Alpha Medical Center in Elkton — he lost it in foreclosure in 2018 — and also has offices in Maryland and Delaware, was charged by a federal grand jury in June 2017 with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of making false statements on loan applications. Prosecutors dropped the conspiracy and second false statement charges at the November hearing.
His plea agreement represented a reversal for the former doctor who pleaded not guilty to the charges at the outset of the case.
Just two months after being indicted, however, Aslam’s co-defendant, Tae H. Kim, of Wayne, Pa., entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and attempted bank fraud filed in the District of Delaware and the District of Maryland, respectively. Both of the fraud charges carry maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
While he was set for sentencing numerous times over the past two years, Kim’s hearing was continuously postponed, an indication that he may have been helping the state in its case against Aslam for further sentencing considerations. An attachment to Kim’s plea agreement was sealed by the court prior to his guilty plea, and sentencing in his case is now set for June 13.
In the case to which he pleaded guilty, Aslam had a family member of one of his business partners, identified only as Person B in court filings, apply for a loan in August 2013 with WSFS Bank for $2.183 million for Tri-State MRI & Imaging, a part of the Alpha Medical Center. Person B was asked to submit the loan because Kim, who was working at WSFS, knew that Aslam wouldn’t qualify for the loan, according to the indictment.
As a new wrinkle in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Fast Care Medical Aid Unit, a limited liability corporation owned by Aslam that operates Got-A-Doc Walk-In Medical Centers in Elkton, North East and New Castle, Del., also pleaded guilty Nov. 30 to health care fraud.
Fast Care had submitted claims to Medicare for services that falsely stated the services were rendered by a physician, when in many cases the services were performed by a physician assistant, which is reimbursed by Medicare at a lower rate, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In accordance with Fast Care’s plea agreement with the government, the U.S. District Court imposed a fine of $100,000.
As part of the global resolution with the government, Aslam also entered into a civil settlement agreement under which he agreed to pay $3.07 million to the federal government and the states of Delaware and Maryland to resolve claims that he caused Fast Care and Amna Medical Center LLC, a corporation he owns that used to operate the Alpha Health Center, to submit false claims to government health care programs.
The civil settlement resolved allegations that Fast Care and Amna Medical Center submitted claims for services to government health care programs for laboratory services that were not medically necessary, did not qualify for payment, and, or, were not provided; medical and, or, counseling services that listed the wrong rendering provider and, or, did not qualify for payment because they were not rendered by an eligible provider; and medical services that listed the wrong service performed and, or, lacked documentation to support the claimed service.
The federal share of the civil settlement is $1.72 million, while the state Medicaid share is $1.37 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In a statement announcing the prison sentence Monday, United States Attorney David Weiss said it sent a strong message to other would-be, white-collar criminals.
“Today’s sentencing concludes the bank fraud aspect of the investigation. Lying to banks regarding the actual person who is receiving loan proceeds is a serious offense. Here, Aslam acknowledged that he caused over $1 million in losses relating to his fraudulent conduct,” Weiss said. “The 30-month sentence appropriately punishes Aslam for his offense and sends a strong message that committing bank fraud will result in a lengthy term of imprisonment. My office remains steadfast in prosecuting criminal conduct that impacts the integrity of our financial system.”
Aslam’s medical career is also over after he agreed to be excluded from Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal health care programs, and surrendered all his medical licenses, according to prosecutors.
He surrendered his Maryland medical license in May 2018 rather than fight a consent order filed against him by the Maryland Board of Physicians over alleged improper delegation of telemedicine duties to a physician’s assistant, as well as two other unidentified complaints, according to state records.
In the last five years, he was put on probation twice by the MBP for “grossly over-utilizing health care services, failing to meet appropriate standards for the delivery of quality medical care and failing to keep adequate medical records.” He was also reprimanded for paying people to refer patients to his practices.
“The exclusion of Dr. Aslam from all federal health care programs demonstrates our commitment to hold bad actors accountable,” said Maureen Dixon, special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Regional Office for the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General in a prepared statement. “We will continue to investigate and disrupt attempts to undermine health care programs.”