Couple admit weight-loss clinics distributed drugs illegally
BY Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org December 18, 2012 4:02PM
The office of Dr. Ray Anand, located on the third floor of this building at 64 Orland Square Drive in Orland Park. | File photo
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:20AM
Although three weight-loss clinics, including one in Merrillville, were open just nine hours a week, they still managed to bring in more than $5 million in revenue for the husband-and-wife owners.
That’s because the centers served as fronts for selling weight-loss drugs without any medical oversight, despite the fact that two doctors were involved, according to plea agreements filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
Dr. Rakesh Anand and Meena Anand face four years and two and a half years, respectively, in prison and must forfeit $4.9 million in exchange for pleading guilty in the case.
The Tinley Park, Ill., couple say in their plea agreements that they started operating their weight-loss clinics, including Doctors Weight Loss Center at 5490 Broadway and two others in Tinley Park and Orland Park, Ill., in 2002. Rakesh Anand, along with Dr. Dinesh Saraiya and other staffers, would give people prescriptions for the weight-loss drugs phendimetrazine and phentermine without any kind of a medical check or follow-up. The plea agreement detailed how five undercover Indiana State Police officers and agents with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration went to the three clinics asking for prescriptions.
Sometimes Rakesh Anand would speak with the undercover officers; other times they spoke with other clinic employees. The one constant was that none of them was ever given a medical evaluation. Anand did comment several times about how some of the officers, who were of a slim build and not close to being overweight, did not need the medication. That didn’t stop him from selling them the drugs, though.
The clinics sold a total of more than 4 million drugs illegally. Rakesh Anand will plead guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance illegally.
Rakesh and Meena Anand also admit they hid part of their revenue from the government in order to evade paying the full amount of income taxes. From 2005 to 2010, they claimed their income was $2 million less than it actually was, meaning they didn’t pay $745,872 that was owed. Both Rakesh and Meena Anand will plead guilty to one count of tax evasion.
The agreement lists 19 financial accounts totalling $4.9 million the couple will forfeit. Part of that money will go toward paying the Anands’ debt to the IRS.
Both Meena and Rakesh Anand are scheduled to change their pleas Wednesday.