Four years after 2 Investigates first uncovered an East Bay medical transport company billing the state for rides in uninsured, unregistered, and unsafe vans, the owners of Med Express Transportation are finally being charged with insurance fraud, grand theft, and money laundering.
Nathan Rabah, his son Mohmoud, his wife Sana, and Rowanne Jaser all appeared in court in Dublin on Tuesday to face nine felony counts. In the courtroom they appeared unhappy and frustrated, and Nathan Rabah hid his face several times from the camera with a sheet of paper and early on shouting, “Watch out for media reporters!”
Prosecutors say the Rabahs billed insurance for dead or incarcerated patients, padded mileage on reimbursed routes, and lied to the state about its workers’ comp insurance, payroll, and finances.
Read the charges against Med Express Transportation:
2 Investigates first uncovered the elaborate fraud in 2015 while investigating safety concerns over the company driving dialysis patients in a dilapidated fleet of vans. KTVU recorded Med Express drivers picking up and dropping off patients at a clinic in vans with body damage, broken mirrors, missing headlights, no proof of insurance, expired or suspended registrations, and in one case, no license plates.
KTVU learned that Med Express billed the state for more than $3.6 million in Medi-Cal claims between 2010 and 2015, according to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). But according to a state audit, investigators discovered that Rabah couldn’t provide proof of services for more than $1.7 million of those claims.
WATCH 2INVESTIGATES' PREVIOUS REPORTS:
Safety concerns surround medical transportation company
Uninsured, unregistered medical vans still on the road
Why can't the state stop this blacklisted medical van company?
After being tipped off by 2 Investigates in 2015, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office uncovered even more fraud, according to charging documents filed late last month.
Prosecutors say Rabah lied about the size of the company’s van fleet in order to fraudulently obtain worker’s comp insurance, paid drivers under the table, and didn’t give workers W-2s as required by law.
Investigators say Med Express billed Anthem Blue Cross more than $3 million for rides, but many of those patients were actually deceased or incarcerated at the time.
The district attorney’s office also discovered that the Rabahs padded the mileage they reported to insurance companies. In one case, according to documents, changing a 16-mile ride to 90 miles in order to overbill Anthem Blue Cross for more than $20,000 during a two-year period.
Investigators said Nathan and Mohmoud Rabah “actively helped run the business and process the billing for the company” while Sana Rabah and Jaser were largely responsible for the banking.
The DA’s forensic accountant looked at 40 bank accounts affiliated with the business and discovered more than 20 occasions in which Nathan and Sana Rabah and Rowanne Jaser completed a transaction that involved money they knew was “obtained from the proceeds of criminal activity, namely the overbillings of Anthem Blue Cross.” All three are facing felony money laundering charges connected to the transactions.
When 2 Investigates approached Rabah outside court Tuesday he refused to answer questions about whether he planned to repay the state for money he was ordered to give back for unverified reimbursement claims. He also did not say whether the business still had vans on the road picking up patients.
When asked whether he planned to repay the tax dollars owed, Mohmoud Rabah also declined to comment, only saying, "God bless you. You guys have a great day. Thank you."