Three Defendants Sentenced to Prison in $3.2 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
SAN FRANCISCO—Patrick Adebowale Sogbein; his wife, Adebola Adefunke Adebimpe; and Eduardo Abad were sentenced yesterday to prison terms of 144 months, 51 months, and 12 months and one day, respectively, for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag; David Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in San Francisco; and Glenn R. Ferry, the Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Regional Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The sentences for Sogbein and Abad also included their convictions for conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks involving the Medicare program.
Evidence at trial showed that, beginning in approximately December 2006, Sogbein, the owner of Debs Medical Distributors, a Van Nuys, California durable medical equipment company, worked with Edna Calaustro, a San Francisco physician, and street level recruiters, including Abad and Mele Saavedra, to locate Medicare beneficiaries and write bogus prescriptions for expensive power wheelchairs for the beneficiaries. In 2008, after Sogbein had increasing difficulties with Medicare scrutinizing the claims that he submitted, Sogbein and his wife, Adebimpe, began submitting claims through a separate company in Adebimpe’s name, Dignity Medical Supply, a Santa Clarita, California durable medical equipment company. The evidence showed that Sogbein and Edna Calaustro worked with Abad, Saavedra, and others to identify Medicare beneficiaries. Abad and Saavedra recruited beneficiaries at locations in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods in San Francisco, including a fast food restaurant at the Powell Street cable car turnaround and a Tenderloin neighborhood senior center. After identifying beneficiaries, Calaustro, with Abad or Saavedra, went to the beneficiaries’ homes with a portable copy machine, copied their Medicare cards, and conducted sham examinations to obtain background information for the required Medicare paperwork. Calaustro gave the fraudulent paperwork and bogus prescriptions to Sogbein and Adebimpe. Sogbein and Adebimpe, in turn, created additional fraudulent paperwork in the names of their respective companies and submitted the claims to Medicare. Sogbein paid Calaustro a $100 kickback for each power wheelchair prescription. Sogbein paid Abad and Saavedra $100 and $50 kickback, respectively, for each beneficiary they identified. This scheme continued through July 2011.
From December 2006 through July 2011, Sogbein and Adebimpe were paid more than $1.6 million for over 400 fraudulent power wheelchair claims submitted to Medicare using the bogus prescriptions written by Calaustro for beneficiaries identified by Saavedra and Abad.
Prior to trial, co-defendants Edna Calaustro and Mele Saavedra, both of San Francisco, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to receive kickbacks involving the Medicare program, and health care fraud. Calaustro and Saavedra are scheduled to be sentenced on August 26, 2014.
Sogbein, 61, Adebimpe, 47, both of Santa Clarita, California; Abad, 68, Calaustro, 71, and Saavedra, 49, of San Francisco, California, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 26, 2012, for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 and health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. On September 19, 2013, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment adding charges against Sogbein, Calaustro, Abad, and Saavedra for conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks involving the Medicare program, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Sogbein was remanded into custody following his conviction at trial. Adebimpe, Abad, Calaustro, and Saavedra remain out of custody.
The sentences were handed down today by the Honorable Jeffrey S. White, United States District Court Judge, following their convictions at trial. Judge White also sentenced the defendants to three-year terms of supervised release and ordered payment of restitution and forfeiture. Sogbein and Adebimpe were ordered to pay restitution of $1,577,426 and $1,019,937, respectively, to Medicare and were also ordered to forfeit $1,577,426 and $1,019,937, respectively, to the United States. Abad was ordered to pay restitution of $100,000 to Medicare and was ordered to forfeit the same amount. Defendants Adebimpe and Abad were ordered to begin serving their prison sentences on August 19, 2014.
Denise Marie Barton and Randy Luskey are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the help of Assistant U.S. Attorney David Countryman, Beth Margen, and Bridget Kilkenny. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI in San Francisco and DHHS OIG in Los Angeles.