WASHINGTON – The co-owner of two health care companies was convicted late yesterday on multiple health care fraud charges related to his participation in a scheme to defraud Medicare, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).
A federal jury in the Central District of California found Evans Oniha, 49, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud and one count of false statements relating to health care matters. Camillus Ehigie, 50, who co-owned and operated the health care companies with Oniha, pleaded guilty on July 5, 2011, to multiple health care fraud charges in connection with his participation in the fraud scheme. Oniha and Ehigie were indicted in February 2011. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from the defendants.
Oniha and Ehigie co-owned Caravan Medical Supplies Inc., a durable medical equipment (DME) company, and Prosperity Home Health Services Inc., a purported home health agency. According to the indictment, from October 2002 to February 2011, Oniha and Ehigie conspired with others to defraud Medicare by paying “marketers” for access to Medicare beneficiary information and fraudulent prescriptions and other documents for DME and home health services. The defendants used the fraudulent documents obtained from the marketers to submit and cause the submission of false claims to Medicare for DME and home health services that were not medically necessary, and that often were not provided to Medicare beneficiaries. According to court documents, Oniha and Ehigie caused Caravan to submit approximately $5.8 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for DME purportedly provided by Caravan. The defendants caused Prosperity to submit approximately $8 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services purportedly provided by Prosperity. According to court documents, Ehigie also owned another DME company, Osbed Medical Supply. Ehigie caused Osbed to submit $6.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Oniha is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19, 2011, and Ehigie is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2012.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William G. Kanellis and Deputy Chief Charles La Bella of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and 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 its inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion. In addition, HHS’s 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.