A San Leandro medical center has been shut down and one of its doctors is facing criminal charges.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, along with California Insurance Commissioner David Jones, announced today they have filed a civil action against the As Soon As Possible Medical Center.
The complaint has closed the center at 1460 150th Ave. as well as its other clinics in Hayward, Vacaville and Fairfield.
Authorities say they have also filed a criminal complaint against Dr. Sultan Said Hamid. The charges accuse Hamid of insurance fraud, perjury, filing false documents and conspiracy to dispense prescription drugs and other controlled substances by non-authorized personnel.
Assistant District Attorney Larry Blazer said Hamid was dispensing drugs such as muscle relaxtants, anti-inflammatory agents and creams to patients who did not need them.
"It seems everyone who walked in there walked out with two, three or four of these things," said Blazer.
The main purpose for the fraud, Blazer said, was to drive up insurance payments.
Hamid's attorney, Ivan Golde, said Thursday his 75-year-old client is making arrangements to pay $100,000 bail. He expected it would be weeks before Hamid is arraigned.
Golde said he hadn't seen all the evidence yet, but he felt the case was not a criminal matter. If anything, he said, it is something for a medical board to investigate.
Golde said he doubts there are any patients who are claiming they were harmed. He said the case centers on undercover officers going into the clinic and posing as patients.
"Is that what we want law enforcement in Alameda County doing?," he asked.
Authorities also filed a civil complaint against the clinic and its co-owner, Thomas Vamvouris.
Vamvouris set up the corporation in 2004 with himself as a 49 percent owner and Hamid as a 51 percent owner. In reality, Barnes said, Vamvouris was the majority owner and that violates California law requiring a medical professional to be the primary owner of a medical facility.
Authorities say Vamvouris has agreed to pay $450,000 in penalties, costs and restitution. He will also be prohibited from owning this type of facility in the future.
No criminal charges are pending against Vamvouris.
Vamvouris' attorney, Daniel Horowitz. said his client agreed to pay the $450,000 in penalties because he believed there was some "gray area" in the situation at the medical clinic and the payment was a compromise to settle the case.
Horowitz said Vamvouris also had no knowledge of any of the illegal activities Hamid is accused of engaging in.
"He was running the business side of things," said Horowitz.
Authorities say they investigated the As Soon As Possible Medical Clinic for two years. The facility employed Hamid as well as acupuncturists and chiropractors. It primarily handled worker compensation and automobile accident patients.
“Medical providers who game the health care system to gain an unfair advantage through abusive and unscrupulous billing practices will be investigated by my department,” said Jones. “I commend the efforts of my fraud detectives and the investigators of the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for the tireless hours spent bringing these unethical providers to justice.”