Local Hospital Owner Won’t Plead Guilty To Medicare Fraud

Tariq Mahmood (Jail photo)
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TYLER (May 10, 2014) The owner of the shuttered Lake Whitney Medical Center, who it appeared, had agreed to plead guilty in an East Texas federal court to masterminding a scheme that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars in false Medicare claims now says he wants a jury trial.

Tariq Mahmood, who operated six hospitals in Texas including the one in Whitney and one in Cameron, was set to go to trial in just days but the apparent plea agreement put the trial on hold.

Mahmood was indicted in April 2013 for conspiracy to commit health care fraud that involved more than $1 million in false billing to Medicare.

“The United States of America, by its undersigned counsel, would show the Court that the defendant, Tariq Mahmood, M.D., and the government have entered into a plea agreement in relation to the charges now pending before this Court,” a notice of plea agreement filed with the Eastern District court in Tyler said.

But the Dallas Morning News reported Saturday that Mahmood has fired his attorney, Dan Cogdell of Houston and now wants to fight the charges in court.

The newspaper reported Mahmood has hired lawyer Mike Khouri of Los Angeles who filed a motion on Mahmood’s behalf seeking a substitution of attorneys and a trial date.

A hearing on the motion will be held Monday in Tyler, the newspaper reported.

The Lake Whitney Medical Center closed its doors for good in March 2014 after the Whitney Hospital Authority board was unable to sell the facility or to find a management company to run it as long as Mahmood was considered the legal owner.

But what was once Central Texas Hospital in Cameron won a new lease on life in September 2013 when Mahmood's lawyers and attorneys representing the hospital's owners worked out a settlement to keep the doors open.

Both the keys and the operating license to the hospital, now known as Cameron Hospital, were given to Rockdale-based Little River Healthcare after it signed a 20-year lease with the hospital's property owners known as CTH Inc. at the beginning of October 2013.