Former Nigerian Fugitive Convicted in Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 19, 2012|
HOUSTON—Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, 45, a naturalized United States citizen originally from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been convicted for his role in the multi-million-dollar City Nursing health care fraud scheme, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Nzeocha, who was charged on October 19, 2009, entered a plea just a short time ago to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of money laundering. As part of the plea, he has also agreed to forfeit $1,098,320 to the United States.
According to the documents in support of his plea, Nzeocha left the United States to avoid arrest not long after receiving a telephone call from a co-conspirator the day Umawa Imo, owner of City Nursing Services of Texas Inc., was arrested. Nzeocha made his initial appearance June 27, 2012, after being extradited back to the United States from Nigeria.
Nzeocha admitted he had an agreement with Imo to sign his name on City Nursing patient documents as the provider of physical therapy services that he knew he was not qualified nor did provide to Medicare beneficiaries. The documents included blank treatment data forms, progress notes and daily physical therapy records. Nzeocha further admitted to knowing Imo was buying Medicare beneficiary information from recruiters and paying Medicare beneficiaries cash in order to bill for physical therapy services that were not provided. Nzeocha received approximately $1,098,320 from City Nursing.
Between December 3, 2007 and June 26, 2009, when Nzeocha worked at City Nursing, the company billed Medicare and Medicaid for approximately $35,819,508 worth of physical therapy services that were not provided and received approximately $26,233,122 as payment for those services from Medicare and Medicaid.
Nzeocha is the eighth person to be convicted in relation to the City Nursing health care fraud scheme, including Imo, who was sentenced to 327 months in federal prison.
Nzeocha faces a possible punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of his convictions. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing, set for January 18, 2013.
This case has been investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Office-Medicare Fraud, Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.