Two owners of transport and taxi companies in northern New York state have pleaded guilty to various fraud charges, including workers’ compensation and Medicaid fraud. These pleas are just the latest developments in a two-year investigation led by the New York State Police.
Arshad Nazir, age 54, of Plattsburg is the owner of Capital Medallion, which does business under the name Avalanche Taxi. Nazir pleaded guilty to the federal felonies of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and to Pay Healthcare Kickbacks and Conspiracy to Commit Healthcare Fraud. As part of his plea agreement, at a later date, Nazir will also plead guilty to charges leveled by the state—Failure to Secure Workers’ Compensation and Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.
Nazir will be sentenced on June 18. He faces a fine of up to $250,000 and ten years in prison. The bust was part of a larger fraud investigation in the Capital and Adirondack regions of New York.
Muhammad Jahangir, age 24, owner of Capital Cab Corporation in Queensbury, was apprehended in the same investigation. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors of Failure to Secure Workers’ Compensation and Petty Larceny. He will be sentenced on April 3 and is likely to pay $17,600 in compensation. Criminal charges against Jahangir’s codefendant, Capital Cab CEO Kurram Gondal, age 38, are pending.
The investigation which led to these pleas came about as the result of a joint federal and state investigation into transportation and cab companies in the area. In May of last year, 13 individuals were arrested as part of the investigation. Allegations against those arrested include failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, filling documentation which fraudulently claimed employees had the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage, invoicing Medicaid for trips which did not occur, and bribing Medicaid patients.
So far, the investigation has uncovered alleged fraudulent Medicaid billing to the tune of millions of dollars.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott applauded the guilty pleas. “These first pleas and restitution orders send a clear message that corrupt medical transport companies will be held accountable. … These taxi companies have plagued the Northway Corridor for years.”
The companies involved in the investigation provided transportation services for Medicaid patients. Charges against the other arrested individuals include many counts of the workers’ compensation crime of Failure to Secure Compensation, Grand Larceny, Falsifying Business Records, and Conspiracy to Commit Healthcare Fraud. Among those accused are Anthony Armstrong of Port Henry, Waqas Nauman of Queensbury, Khalid Chaddher of Ticonderoga, Chaudary Kahn of Keeseville, and Tukk Simpson of Crown Point.
According to New York State Police Acting Superintendent Keith Corlett, Nazir and Jahangir’s pleas mark an important step in the ongoing investigation. “Today’s guilty plea is proof that we will not tolerate the actions of those willing to victimize their customers in order to steal millions of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Nazir’s lawyer, Kevin O’Brien, argued Nazir ran a successful business for years and only turned to fraud when he realized the other transport companies in the area were using fraud to seize market share. “He was trying to do the right thing,” explained O’Brien. “He regrets his decision, and we’re hoping for minimal prison time when he is sentenced.”
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