Merrillville doctor pleads guilty to tax evasion, drug charges

2013-01-08T18:30:00Z 2013-01-08T19:48:18Z Merrillville doctor pleads guilty to tax evasion, drug chargesTimes Staff nwitimes.com
January 08, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

HAMMOND | A physician who owned a weight loss clinic in Merrillville pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to tax evasion and illegally dispensing millions of pills to patients without proper examinations.

Dr. Rakesh Anand, 57, and his wife Meena Anand, 53 — both of Tinley Park, Ill. — owned and managed Doctors Weight Loss Clinics in Merrillville, Tinley Park and Orland Park, Ill. The Anands agreed to forfeit and pay the feds $5.2 million as part of their plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen on Monday accepted the couple's guilty pleas on the tax evasion charges at the federal courthouse in Hammond. Van Bokkelen deferred acceptance of Rakesh Anand's guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances until his sentencing March 20.

In the plea agreement, Rakesh Anand said between January 2002 and February 2010, he and Dr. Dinesh Saraiya purchased and dispensed more than 1 million pills containing Phendimetrazine and more than 3 million pills containing Phentermine. Both of the drugs are controlled substances.

Saraiya, 75, of Tinley Park, worked with Rakesh Anand to dispense the amphetamine-based pills to patients as weight loss pills without performing physicals or exams, reviewing patient records, obtaining medical histories or performing subsequent monitoring, according to federal authorities.

Rakesh Anand paid Saraiya based on how many patients he saw and how many pills he dispensed to patients, he said in the plea agreement.

Over the course of the investigation, undercover law enforcement officials — two of whom had slight builds and body mass indexes below the obesity level — purchased the pills at the clinics without any exams or other medical considerations, federal officials said.

Saraiya cooperated with the investigation and is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Rakesh and Meena Anand remain free on bond until sentencing. Van Bokkelen added electronic monitoring to Rakesh Anand's release Monday.

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