By Valerie D. Lockhart
SUN EXECUTIVE EDITOR
While the City of Detroit recovers from political corruption, others are preying on its residents.
Dressed in expensive business suits and medical scrubs are some of the city’s biggest criminals. They travel from their suburban homes to operate businesses or render services within the city, but their activities are illegal.
Because their crimes take place in the city, Detroit’s crime statistics soar. So, are suburbanites giving Detroit a bad reputation?
Craving drugs a woman can’t afford to seek out and patronize the typical drug dealer. Instead, she goes to the Stout Family Medicine in Detroit for a quick fix. The woman performs a sexual act in exchange for a narcotics prescription.
Other patients at the clinic offer cash for a prescription.
Accepting cash or sexual favors, Dr. John Ronal Verbovsky eagerly writes prescriptions for dope fiends. No medical exams are performed, and the only questions asked involved their method of payment.
An investigation on the clinic led to the arrest of the 67-year-old doctor, who was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison and his medical license was revoked.
“The predatory conduct exhibited in this case is particularly reprehensible considering the offender here had taken a professional oath to care for the sick,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “He has harmed patients and damaged families, his behavior is inexcusable and Verbovsky will never practice medicine again.”
Earlier this year, Mohammed Sadiq, of Oakland County, was sentenced to 80 months in prison for defrauding Medicare out of $12.6 million.
The 67-year-old operated two home health care agencies in Detroit. Kickbacks were given to patient recruiters to obtain the personal information of Medicare recipients. Fake patient records were created and bills were sent to the agency for payment.
In a nationwide sting led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, sixteen individuals were arrested in Detroit. The arrests included six doctors, a social worker, a pharmacist and two physical therapists, which were charged with defrauding Medicare out of over $122 million.
“This action represents the largest criminal health care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice, and it adds to an already remarkable record of enforcement,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “The defendants charged include doctors, patient recruiters, home health care providers, pharmacy owners, and others. They billed for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed, and for services that weren’t rendered. In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue our focus on preventing wrongdoing and prosecuting those whose criminal activity drives up medical costs and jeopardizes a system that our citizens trust with their lives. We are prepared — and I am personally determined — to continue working with our federal, state, and local partners to bring about the vital progress that all Americans deserve.”
Most of the individuals arrested lived in neighboring suburbs but worked in Detroit.
Although crime statistics reflect negatively on Detroit, residents say that they aren’t totally at blame.
“I believe that crime that truly is suburban and transfers into the city makes the city look way worse than it really is,” says Asheli Johnson. “The thing that bothers me most is that when good things happen in the City it’s not shown that way. It in some kind of way gets switched to the suburbs. But the crime shows as Detroit, when it’s really taking place in Southfield, Taylor, Westland, etc. or by people from those areas.”
Others say that crimes committed by outsiders should be attributed to the criminal’s city of residence, and should be removed from crime statistics on Detroit.
“I’m curious to know what our actual statistics would look like, if they removed the criminals living in Southfield, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Warren and other suburbs from their report,” said Veronica Parker. “How dare they cross Eight Mile to come to Detroit to commit a crime, then go back to their cozy suburban home. These are the same ones that look down on our city. Let their city take the fall for their residents’ actions. Why should we always have to suffer the consequences from their actions?”
Whether it’s white collar crimes committed by business professionals and politicians or gangbangers, drug dealers or Johns soliciting prostitutes, Detroiters says it’s all “crime” and is ruining the city’s reputation.
“Everybody wants to rep the D, when something good happens,” said Marcus Jackson. “As soon as something bad happens, they say, ‘Watch your back, if you go to Detroit.’ What they don’t know is that we need to be watching you, who cross Eight Mile to commit crimes in our city. Then, they want to know why we’re so mad. We’re mad, because you’re giving us a bad name and ruining our reputation.”