By David Pendered
They were like barnyard roosters strutting around in rented peacock plumes, driving rented Bentleys and jetting off for the weekend to Chicago or the Caribbean – until the chiropractor and his co-conspiritor were convicted of healthcare fraud committed in a Buckhead highrise, according to accounts of their federal trial.
The high jinks reached a point in 2016 that a co-worker implored the co-conspiritor to tone things down. The message fell on deaf ears in an office in the One Buckhead Plaza tower, at the corner of Peachtree Road and West Paces Ferry Road:
- “A co-employee emailed McMenamin in November 2016, saying ‘I would like to [talk to] you and Shue about possibly toning down your lifestyles a bit. Getting rid of corp office, getting rid of the luxury vehicles, not traveling every weekend to chicago and tropical islands. Just being normal people so the company can actually make money.’”
The co-conspiritor and the chiropractor were feeling their oats and had no interest in toning down their lifestyle. The previous month, they had exchanged the following email messages. A government filing from the trial observes:
- “Earlier, in October, Kothari emailed McMenamin a brochure about private flying while remarking that they already had cars, watches, and a boat as a result of the scheme. Kothari wrote: ‘Its time we start looking at this way of travel for us!!..BOOOMMM!!!!!!!!!
The co-conspiritor didn’t miss a beat:
- “McMenamin responded, “This is the ultimate bro!!!”
The co-conspiritor changed his tune after federal chargers were brought, the business collapsed and he was looking to save himself. He rallied advocates including a girl who’d grown up down the street, his brother and stepfather, and a woman whose handwritten testimonial included in court records observed:
- “He is an awesome person that cares greatly for his family. Since his incarceration Tim has lost his mother and many friends have forgotten about him. However, he has remained positive.”
For his part, the co-conspiritor told federal authorities that he didn’t make much money from the scheme:
- “[A]lthough he acknowledged perks of working with Kothari, including driving Kothari’s Bentley, trips to the Caribbean, and partying, he claims that he was not paid much money during the course of the conspiracy.”
Two sentences from his brother’s letter that suggests the co-conspiritor got all he wanted out of the deal:
- “Timothy cannot help it, but he has always put on a ‘tough guy’ demeanor. Although his aggressive personality can be off-putting, he is without a doubt my best friend.”
In the end, it ended with prison sentences and restitution of the money they had defrauded from insurance companies. Both men were sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
Shailesh (“Shue”) Kothari, 45, of Atlanta, the former owner and CEO of Primera Medical Group, Inc., was sentenced to six years, nine months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised released. He was ordered to pay restitution of $1.5 million on charges of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The co-conspiritor, Timothy McMenamin, 32, of Atlanta, Primera’s former COO, was sentenced to seven years, 10 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay restitution of $1.5 million on charges of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The two pleaded guilty in October 2018 to a scheme in which they oversaw blood tests for allergies. Kothari had opened his medical practice in 2009, according to state records, and prosecutors said the target market was corporate wellness, concierge care and allergy testing.
The heart of the scheme involved the hiring of marketing research companies to recruit patients for blood tests – which were not conducted but for which Primera billed.
As the scheme collapsed, McMenamin was creating false lab reports to send to insurance companies and to share with patients. One patient was a 5-year-old boy who suffered from an unknown reaction, court records show.
In all, Primera submitted more than 4,500 fraudulent claims using filing information from unknown doctors. The claims sought more than $8.5 million in insurance payments. Primera collected a portion of the billed amount, according to evidence presented at trial. The company was dissolved Sept. 7, 2018, state records show.