They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
Ahmed, the president and CEO of a company called Landmark Medical Management, is accused of masterminding the scheme and faces charges including conspiracy, insurance fraud, and, most dramatically, involuntary manslaughter, according to one of two sealed indictments issued by an Orange County grand jury both dated June 17 and obtained this week by TPM.
The first of the two indictments accused Ahmed of developing topical cream formulas "based on the profitability of the ingredients," and then giving doctors who treated workers' compensation patients illegal financial incentives to prescribe the creams. The scheme, which ran from 2009-2013, also involved filing false claims with multiple insurance companies, the nine-count indictment alleges.
The indictment provides few details on the involuntary manslaughter charge, alleging only that Ahmed, a pharmacist named Michael Rudolph, and a doctor named Andrew Jarminiski (who are both charged along with Ahmed in the first indictment) "did unlawfully and without malice kill Andrew G. (a minor), a human being, in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner and without due caution and circumspection."
TPM's attempts to contact Rudolph and lawyers for Ahmed and Jarminiski were unsuccessful on Thursday. In a statement emailed to TPM on Friday, Landmark Medical Management human resources manager, Ladonna Hieber, said that 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." Southern California Public Radio, which first reported on the indictment, reported late Thursday that the The Orange County prosecutor's office declined to comment to SCPR because the indictments remain under seal.
In an extensive profile in 2012, TPM first reported about Ahmed's business practices, which officials and workers compensation experts in California have had suspicions about for years. In his initial interview with TPM, in his Ontario, California office in August of that year, Ahmed agreed to meet only if his lawyer were present and the interview was off the record. In a subsequent on-the-record phone interview, Ahmed was wary of providing details about how his business worked.
"My problem is, I don't want competition," Ahmed said at the time. "I like to have a private life. I don't want people to copy my business model, which I have wasted millions on, with legal opinion letters, from whatever, perfecting it over years. I don't want people to take it for free, and start giving me competition."
Despite having little history of political giving, Ahmed gave $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action in 2012, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Democrats. In his interview with TPM in 2012, Ahmed called House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) his best friend, and said he regularly spent time with governors and U.S. senators. Data maintained by The Center for Responsive Politics show that Ahmed contributed tens of thousands of additional dollars to Democrats in 2013.
TPM's initial reporting about Ahmed met resistance from Bill Burton, the former White House deputy press secretary and co-founder of Priorities USA Action.
"Not every person who is interested in investing in the direction of the country is looking to make themselves famous by doing it," Burton told TPM in 2012.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, Ahmed made his most recent federal campaign contribution on September 30, 2013: $5,200 to Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). In early October, the Orange County District Attorney's Office raided the offices of Landmark Medical Management.
In the second sealed indictment obtained by TPM, the Orange County grand jury brought 35 charges against 12 of Ahmed's associates, including a number of physicians and chiropractors and former Landmark Medical Management Vice President Bruce Curnick. The defendants are accused of conspiring with Ahmed, who is not charged in the second indictment, and the counts include insurance fraud, kickbacks for patient referrals, and false claims. The doctors accepted millions of dollars from Ahmed between 2010 and 2013, the second indictment alleges.