Texas Man Convicted of Medicare Fraud in Kansas
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 16, 2012|
KANSAS CITY, KS—A Texas man has been convicted of fraudulently billing Medicare for power wheelchairs and other medical devices, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
A jury convicted Edmund Nwaudobi, 48, Sugar Land, Texas, on one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, two counts of health care fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“Health care fraud is a widespread problem,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “We are working hard to protect the American people and safeguard precious taxpayer dollars.”
During trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence that from 2004 to 2009 Nwaudobi conspired with co-defendants Tom Alabraba, Iyaye Ishmael, and George Tasie to fraudulently bill Medicare for power wheelchairs and other medical devices, such as leg and body braces. In some instances, Medicaid was billed for devices that were not medically necessary, including leg braces for an individual who had previously had his legs amputated, and who never received the braces. In other instances, Medicare was billed for medical devices that Medicare recipients never received.
Nwaudobi conducted business on behalf of Good Care, Inc., an Overland Park, Kan., company that supplied durable medical equipment such as orthotics. Nwaudobi shared patient information with Tom Alabraba, who owned or operated Tal-Med, Inc., a Kansas City, Kan., company that supplied durable medical devices; George Tasie, who owned or operated Central Medical, Inc., a Kansas City, Kan., company that supplied durable medical devices; and Iyaye Ishmael, who was a manager of Central Medical, Inc.
The companies billed more than $2.9 million in Medicare claims for 397 beneficiaries living in Missouri and Kansas, and received more than $1.5 million from those claims.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Nwaudobi:
- Submitted false statements to Medicare that physicians had prescribed durable medical devices;
- Provided durable medical devices to Medicare recipients that were different than stated in bills to Medicare;
- Did not require Medicare recipients to make co-payments required by Medicare; and
- Used doctors’ identities without permission to make fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Brian Truchon, FBI Special Agent in Charge, said: “The FBI is fully committed to investigating health care fraud and working with our law enforcement partners to stop individuals or groups that commit fraud against government sponsored programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as well as fraud against private insurance companies. This verdict puts those individuals on notice that these crimes will be fully investigated and brought to successful prosecution.”
Tom Alabraba and Iyaye Ishmael are fugitives. George Tasie, who pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and health care fraud, failed to appear for sentencing.
Sentencing is set for April 30. Nwaudobi faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the conspiracy count, a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the health care fraud counts, and a mandatory two years consecutive to any other sentence and a fine up to $250,000 on the identity theft count.
Grissom commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, HHS-OIG and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Oakley and Jabari Wamble for their work on the case.
In all cases, defendants who have been indicted are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.