State News

Audit: Doc overcharged the state $500K to treat prisoners

Posted September 28, 2016 1:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2016 7:13 p.m. EDT

— An audit of records from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety found that a doctor contracted to treat prisoners overstated time worked, to the tune of at least $567,125 in overpayments.

Dr. Sami Hassan is now the subject of a criminal investigation after State Auditor Beth Wood's office found he charged the Department of Public Safety for four times the number of hours he actually spent working at five prisons.

Following up on a tip, the Department of Public Safety noticed discrepancies between the doctor's records and entry and exit logs at the prisons. Wood's staff calculated the doctor overbilled more than 4,500 hours over three years.

Hassan's contract calls for him to be paid $125 per hour. He told auditors that he had "tacit agreement" with the department to bill a minimum of eight hours for a visit to a large facility and three hours for a visit to a small facility, no matter how much time he actually spent on site.

Department administrators deny any agreement, but the audit found prison officials who turned a blind eye to Hassan's overbilling, even when employees pointed it out.

"You had two other employees whose supervisors told them, 'Don't try to reconcile his time with what he's charging us. It's hard to get doctors to work in the prison system, and just go with whatever he turns in,'" Wood said.

As a result of the audit findings, DPS is reviewing the time logs of other doctors who serve the prison system.