Doctor, Office Manager Arrested and Charged with Health Care Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 20, 2010|
COLUMBUS—A federal grand jury here has indicted Dr. Charles C. Njoku, 60, of Powell, and Veronica Scott-Guiler, 41, of Orient, who supervised his Columbus office, charging them with billing government health care insurance programs for physician services, including office visits and tests, that were not provided as billed. They are also charged with prescribing medicine without a legitimate medical purpose.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, Keith L. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati Division (FBI), and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS), announced the indictment which was returned January 12 and unsealed today following the arrests of the defendants.
FBI and HHS agents along with agents from the Ohio Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud unit arrested the defendants this morning. They appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp who ordered them released on their own recognizance. A date will be set for an arraignment.
Njoku had offices in Columbus and Akron and billed public health care programs under his own name and People’s Family Medical Center.
The indictment alleges that between 2005 and March, 2009, Njoku and Scott-Guiler billed the programs for office visits and tests that were not delivered as billed, including office visits billed to the program while Njoku was out of the country. The indictment also alleges that Njoku gave Scott-Guiler pre-signed prescription pads and allowed her to write and issue prescriptions to patients for narcotics and other medications while he was out of the country. And that Njoku allowed Scott-Guiler to see patients at his office then claiming that he had seen the patients when he submitted bills to the programs.
The indictment charges each of them with 14 counts of making false statements in connection with payment for health care services. Each count is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. The indictment also charges each defendant with one count of health care fraud, punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment, and four counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances, punishable by up to 20 years' imprisonment. The indictment also charges Njoku with one count of distributing a controlled substance without the appropriate form as required by law. That is punishable by a maximum sentence of four years imprisonment.
Stewart commended the investigation which was by the Health Care Fraud Task Force, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Malek, and Special Assistant U. S. Attorney Constance A. Nearhood with Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray’s Office, who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. Defendants should be presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.