Kingsport doctor pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in Mississippi

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJHL) — Two doctors, including one from Kingsport, have pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to commit health care fraud.

Shahjahan Sultan, 37 of Madison, Mississippi, and Thomas Edward Sturdavant, 56 of Kingsport, made their pleas Thursday in the Southern District of Mississippi.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst says Sultan entered into a contract with a pharmacy in Jackson County, Mississippi in which he agreed to prescribe expensive compound medications to patients in exchange for the pharmacy paying him 35% of the reimbursements it received from insurance providers.

According to Hurst, Sultan did not perform thorough examinations of the individuals who he prescribed the compound medications to.

Sultan hired Sturdavant in September 2014 and agreed to pay him $900,000 a year to perform telemedicine service and prescribe the compound medications, according to investigators.

Between May 2014 and October 2014, insurance providers reimbursed the pharmacy more than $5,000,000 based on claims submitted in connection with prescriptions from the two doctors, according to Hurst.

The U.S. attorney says both doctors even called in medications for individuals they never examined.

In June, the CEO of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Kingsport told the Associated Press that Sturdavant was on the hospital’s staff but said the charges were only related to his practice in Mississippi and had nothing to do with anything that happened in Kingsport.

Sultan and Sturdavant are scheduled for sentencing on February 26, 2020. They face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

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