By CARY DAVIS
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- The owner of a New Port Richey-based chain of clinics Thursday was charged with fraud for overcharging insurance companies for patients' MRI tests.
Haresh Rich Emandi, 32, the owner of Advanced Injury Medical LLC, was arrested Thursday morning on 23 counts of insurance fraud. State investigators said Emandi charged insurance companies more than twice what it cost his clinics for magnetic resonance imaging exams.
Advanced Injury Medical has satellite clinics in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus and Sarasota counties. The company, which was formed in 1993, formerly was called Central Medical Clinic.
The alleged crimes occurred at the company's headquarters in New Port Richey, which handles billing for all of the clinics, said Florida Department of Insurance spokeswoman Nina Bottcher.
The investigation began in late 1999 when adjusters with Allstate suspected that Emandi's billings for MRIs were inflated. The claims submitted by Emandi charged $1,050 for each MRI procedure and $200 to read the tests. Insurance Department investigators found that Emandi had paid another company $400 for each test and $45 to read the results.
Investigators also discovered that the letterhead on the MRI readings had been changed from the name of the radiologist to that of Central Medical Clinic, the Insurance Department said in a news release.
The investigation found 23 instances of fraud totaling more than $15,000 in overbillings, the Insurance Department said. Bottcher said there could be more cases of fraud associated with Emandi.
Emandi was booked into the Pasco County Jail in Land O'Lakes and released after posting $20,000 bail.
Emandi's attorney, Peter Napolitano of New Port Richey, said he was reviewing the charges against his client.
"Rich Emandi has been cooperating and complying with every request from the Department of Insurance for almost four years during this witch hunt," he said.
Bottcher said Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher is pushing for legislation that would put a cap on fees for MRIs and other diagnostic procedures. A bill that would do just that was approved Wednesday by the House Insurance Committee, Bottcher said.