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Azomani v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

June 1, 2017

HOSAN M. AZOMANI a/k/a HOSAN AZOMANI a/k/a HOSAN MENANYA AZOMANI a/k/a DR. AZOMANI a/k/a HOSAN AZOMANI M.D. a/k/a DR. HOSAN M. AZOMANI
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/23/2014

         WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. BETTY W. SANDERS, Judge

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: SUE M. PERRY PAT McNAMARA DERRICK T. SIMMONS ERRICK D. SIMMONS D. LEE MARTIN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: GLENN S. SWARTZFAGER

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: WILLIE DEWAYNE RICHARDSON

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

          WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE

         ¶1. Dr. Hosan Azomani seeks review of the Court of Appeals' affirmance of his conviction and sentence for two counts of Medicaid fraud in violation of Mississippi Code Sections 43-13-213 and 43-13-215. We granted certiorari to address venue and statute-of-limitations issues. Finding that venue was proper and that the claims were prosecuted within the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirm the conviction and sentence of the trial court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Dr. Azomani practiced pediatric medicine under the name Children's Medical Group of Greenville PLLC, in Greenville, Mississippi, which is located in Washington County. In 2007, the Division of Medicaid conducted an audit of Dr. Azomani's patient files, which revealed three coding errors. Though Dr. Azomani admitted to the errors, he claimed that he had not deliberately made the mistakes.

         ¶3. Later, following three complaints involving Dr. Azomani's choices of treatment for patients, Officer David Delgado of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated Dr. Azomani's Medicaid billing. Officer Delgado testified that Dr. Azomani regularly billed the highest-level code[1] for almost all of his patients. Specifically on October 19, 2010, Dr. Azomani billed Mississippi Medicaid under the highest-level code for all fifty-six children he treated that day. And on January 3, 2011, he used the same code to bill Medicaid for the sixty-nine children he treated on that day. Using this code for all children treated on those two days, he was reimbursed the highest possible amount for all office visits on those two days, for which Medicaid paid him a total of $14, 715.66. Experts who reviewed Dr. Azomani's records for Medicaid unanimously concluded that none of the children Dr. Azomani treated during those two days should have been billed under that code.

         ¶4. Dr. Azomani was indicted in the Washington County Circuit Court on January 13, 2014, on thirteen counts of Medicaid fraud. He was tried over six days beginning on October 27, 2014. At trial, the State called numerous witnesses involved with the investigation and audit of Dr. Azomani's files. Experts for the State and Dr. Azomani agreed that he improperly billed Medicaid for all of the patients he treated during the two days at issue. Dr. Azomani testified that he did not intend to bill Medicaid improperly. Instead, he claimed that he had relied on the 2007 partial review of his files, which allegedly had suggested incorrectly that he had been billing properly. On November 1, 2014, the jury found him guilty of two counts of fraudulently misusing the highest-level billing code, an inappropriate code for the 125 children he treated on the two aforementioned days. Dr. Azomani was acquitted on the other eleven counts. Dr. Azomani was sentenced to three years for each count, to be served concurrently.

         ¶5. Dr. Azomani appealed, raising multiple issues including: (1) improper venue, (2) variance between the jury-instruction language and the indictment language, (3) indictment after the statute-of-limitations period, (4) the State's failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. Azomani willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously made false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims for Medicaid benefits, (5) ineffective assistance of counsel, and (6) cumulative errors that warranted reversal. The Court of Appeals found that none ...


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