Kareem Ahmed, Major Obama Donor Accused of Workers Comp Fraud, Assets Unfrozen, But ...
See Update No. 2 on Page 2 on a judge un-freezing the assets of Kareem Ahmed and 14 doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals, but you won't believe the bond and bail amounts that were set. Update No. 1 was on today's hearing.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 25, 9:30 A.M.: Did a Santa Ana politician's quest to save California's workers compensation system help lead to the Orange County grand jury indictment of Inland Empire businessman Kareem Ahmed, a major donor to Barack Obama as well as such charities as Lupus LA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation and the Drug Enforcement Agency Survivors Benefit Fund?
NBC Los Angeles Landmark Medical Management's blog includes this screen grab from KNBC of Kareem Ahmed and Santa Clarita second grader Sedona Goldstein teaming for a Niger clean water project.
Center for Responsive Politics data shows Ahmed gave more than $1 million to the president's reelection campaign in the 2012 cycle, with most of it going to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action.
One year before that, then-Assemblyman and Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) sponsored a bill to stop workers comp profiteering through "drug compounding," which involves using multiple medications to create a chemical remedy specifically for one patient. It is labor intensive, costly and, according to Solorio's legislation, devastating to California's already bloated workers comp system.
"Drug compounding--a legal but rarely necessary practice--has exploded as a physician profit-center in workers comp," Solorio said at the time. "That practice must be stopped."
Before Governor Jerry Brown signed Solorio's bill into law in October 2011, the legislation withstood heavy lobbying from Ahmed's Ontario-based company, Landmark Medical Management. The firm's former vice president, Bruce Curnick, took credit for gathering opposition to the bill, convincing all Republicans in the State Senate to oppose it so there would not be enough votes for it to advance to the governor and helping hammer out a more industry-palatable version for Brown to sign after the Assembly-Senate negotiations.
Curnick is quite a character. As reported by Talking Points Memo, he received three years probation after pleading guilty to battery and disturbing the peace in a plea agreement stemming from his arrest for trying to have sex with his 17-year-old babysitter in December 1997. The State Bar disbarred Curnick in 2000 for misappropriating about $40,000 of client funds, disregarding the welfare of seven clients, acts of moral turpitude and 15 other violations of professional rules.
Curnick mentioned to Talking Points Memo that Solorio's bill as signed into law was essentially toothless because doctors could get around restrictions by administering the compounds themselves in their offices.
Speaking of offices, it was Ahmed's that were raided in October of last year by the Orange County District Attorney's office, which produced the evidence that led to the grand jury indicting 15 people, including Ahmed, for an alleged multi-million dollar workers comp fraud scheme. The indictment specifically accuses ringleader Ahmed of:
- hiring pharmacists to produce three "compounded transdermal cream;"
- paying kickbacks to several physicians and chiropractors who prescribed the creams to their workers' compensation patients (to the tune of $25 million between June 15, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012);
- conspiring with the doctors to submit fraudulent workers compensation claims.
Ahmed, Dr. Andrew Jarminski, who has offices in Long Beach and Lawndale, and Michael Rudolph, owner of Tustin Community Pharmacy, are also charged with the manslaughter of a baby. On or about Feb. 3, 2012, the three "did unlawfully and without malice kill Andrew G. (a minor) ... in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner and without due caution and circumspection," reads the indictment.
Landmark Medical Management has released this statement on behalf of its embattled CEO: "Kareem Ahmed and his staff are innocent of all charges that have been alleged. The charges are meritless and we expect full exoneration of any wrongdoing."