OAKLAND, CA—A former employee of Kaiser Permanente pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Marcus Williams announced.
In pleading guilty, Asim Waqar admitted that from July 2004 through September 2008, he was employed with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland and responsible for the supervision of a number of Kaiser employees and contract employees.
In February 2005, Waqar and co-defendant Farid Rahman, Waqar’s college friend, discussed a plan to defraud Kaiser by falsely reporting to Kaiser that Rahman’s wife, co-defendant Mina Kuhl, was a contract employee working for Kaiser under Waqar’s supervision from her Michigan residence. They agreed that once Kuhl was hired by Kaiser, Waqar would falsely report to Kaiser the hours allegedly worked by Kuhl, thereby causing her to receive payments from the staffing companies hired by Kaiser to handle the payroll for contract employees. They further agreed that Rahman would pay Waqar a percentage of the money Kuhl received from the Kaiser staffing companies.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, Kuhl submitted a resume and employment application to Kaiser. Aided by Waqar’s strong endorsement, in March 2005 Kuhl was hired by Kaiser as a contract employee to work under Waqar’s supervision from her residence in Michigan. Once hired as a contractor, Kuhl performed no work for Kaiser, but with her knowledge and consent, throughout the conspiracy Waqar logged on to a Kaiser computer using Kuhl’s name and password and falsely reported hours she purportedly worked.
Beginning in April 2005 and continuing to August 2008, when Kaiser learned of the fraudulent scheme, Kaiser paid the third party vendors $1,803,667 for hiring, employing, and paying Kuhl; and Kuhl received a gross salary of $1,521,875, prior to withholdings. During this same time period, Waqar received $428,300 in kickbacks from Rahman and Kuhl. Waqar willfully failed to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service and failed to pay taxes on the income, which resulted in a tax loss of $142,530 to the United States.
Waqar, 39; Farid Rahman, 43; and Minda Kuhl, 37, all of Windsor, Canada, were charged in a superseding information on November 3, 2011. Waqar and Rahman were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion. Kuhl was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Rahman and Kuhl pleaded guilty to all charges on March 3, 2012, and were sentenced on June 26, 2012. Rahman was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Kuhl was sentenced to one year and one day. They were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,803,667 to Kaiser and $133,044 to the IRS.