WASHINGTON – The owner and operator of a Los Angeles durable medical equipment (DME) company was sentenced to 46 months in prison today in connection with a power wheelchair scheme to defraud Medicare, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.
Sylvester Ijewere, 49, was also ordered to pay $211,755 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer of the Central District of California. In addition, Ijewere was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.
Ijewere pleaded guilty on April 12, 2010, to health care fraud. Ijewere, the owner of Maydads Medical Supply, admitted that between June 2007 and October 2009, he conspired with others to purchase fraudulent prescriptions and medical documents which he used to submit false claims to Medicare for expensive, high-end power wheelchairs, and other DME. Ijewere received approximately $4,000 in reimbursement payments for each power wheelchair claim he submitted to Medicare. Approximately 50 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries to whom Ijewere claimed Maydads had supplied power wheelchairs and other equipment lived more than 100 miles from Maydads’ Los Angeles-area offices in Central and Northern California.
As a result of this scheme, Ijewere admitted that he submitted or caused the submission of approximately $471,345 in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through Maydads.
Ijewere’s co-conspirator, Donna Wells, a patient recruiter, was charged for her role in the scheme in October 2009, and is scheduled to begin trial on Nov. 9, 2010.
Today’s sentencing was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. for the Central District of California; Tony Sidley, Assistant Chief of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (CAL-DOJ); Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent-in-Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for HHS (HHS-OIG); and Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jonathan T. Baum of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry C. O’Neill of the Central District of California. The case is being investigated by CAL-DOJ . The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 810 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $1.85 billion. In addition, HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) , go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov