A former information technology manager for Kaiser Permanente has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to two years and nine months in prison for his role in a $1.8 million contract worker fraud. Asim Waqar, 40, formerly of Oakland and now of Windsor, Canada, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Wednesday. Hamilton also ordered him to pay Kaiser $1,803,667 in restitution for payments the health care company made between 2005 and 2008 for the services of a consultant whose employment was arranged by Waqar and who did no work.
She also ordered him to pay the government $142,530 in back taxes he failed to pay on kickbacks of $428,300 he received from the scheme during those four years. The supposed technology consultant, Mina Kuhl, 38, of Windsor, Canada, was the wife of a college friend of Waqar, Farid Rahman. Rahman, 44, also of Windsor, owned a jewelry store in the nearby Detroit suburb of Garden City, Mich. Waqar pleaded guilty before Hamilton last year to one count of conspiring with the couple to defraud Kaiser and one count of evading taxes. He resigned from Kaiser on Sept. 4, 2008, after being confronted by company investigators about the fraud.
The prosecution of Rahman and Kuhl was transferred to federal court in Detroit, where Rahman pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiracy and income tax evasion and Kuhl admitted to the conspiracy count. Rahman was sentenced to one year and six months in prison and Kuhl to one year and one day. Both were also ordered to pay the $1,803,667 restitution jointly with Waqar. According to a complaint filed in the case in 2011, Waqar encouraged Kaiser to hire Kuhl as a consultant, falsely signed her name into Kaiser computers to log her non-existent hours of work, and then under his own name approved the hours.
Prosecutors said in a sentencing brief that during one seven-week period in the fall of 2007, Waqar billed Kaiser for an average of 106 hours per week of work by Kuhl at $150 per hour. The prosecutors said that of the more than 1.8 million paid by Kaiser, nearly $300,000 went to three outside companies that arranged for contract employment. The vendors paid Kuhl $1,521,875 before deductions, and after the deductions were made she received $1,019,299.
The couple in turn gave Waqar a total of $428,300, according to the sentencing brief. Prosecutors contended in the document that Waqar was the “driving force” in the scheme and abused his position of trust “for no apparent reason aside from greed.” Defense attorney Gail Shifman argued in a brief that Waqar and Rahman “were on equal footing in this fraudulent scheme” and said Waqar is remorseful and deeply ashamed.
Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.