NEW YORK – The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said Monday that it has indicted the co-owner and operator of a Chicago-area clinical laboratory for fraud related to COVID-19 testing.
The indictment alleges that Zishan Alvi, 44, co-owner and operator of Laboratory A, participated in a scheme to submit fraudulent claims for COVID-19 testing to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Uninsured Program and deliver inaccurate and unreliable test results to patients.
According to the indictment, Alvi sought reimbursement for tests that Laboratory A had not performed; for tests that Laboratory A had modified in such a way as to make the results unreliable; and for tests that had already been paid for by the individuals receiving them. From February 2021 to February 2022, Laboratory A received more than $83 million in payments from the HRSA. Alvi is alleged to have transferred a portion of those funds to a personal account and used them for personal expenditures including vehicle purchases and stock and cryptocurrency investments.
The indictment also alleges that under Alvi's direction Laboratory A provided negative COVID-19 test results to patients who had provided specimens but for whom no COVID-19 test had been performed. When tests on some of these specimens were ultimately performed, Laboratory A did not release positive results so as to conceal that it had provided the negative result before running the test.
Alvi is also alleged to have directed lab employees to use less test reagents than necessary in order to save money.
Alvi was indicted by a federal grand jury on 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government funds. The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $6.8 million as well as five luxury vehicles and funds from other trading and investment accounts. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, and the count of theft of government funds is punishable by up to 10.