WASHINGTON – A Houston-area nurse was sentenced today in Houston for her participation in a $5.2 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS).
Ezinne Ubani, the former director of nursing at Family Healthcare Group, a Houston home health care company, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas in the Southern District of Texas to 97 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release. Ubani was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution jointly and severally with her codefendants. Ubani was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and two counts of making false statements following a May 2011 trial.
According to the evidence presented at trial and in court documents, Family Healthcare Group purported to provide skilled nursing to Medicare beneficiaries. Family Healthcare Group paid co-conspirators to recruit Medicare beneficiaries for the purpose of filing claims with Medicare for skilled nursing that was medically unnecessary and/or not provided. The evidence showed that Ezinne Ubani falsified documents to support the fraudulent payments. After the Medicare beneficiaries were recruited, other co-conspirators fraudulently signed plans of care stating that the beneficiaries needed home health care when in fact they knew the beneficiaries were not home-bound and not in need of skilled nursing.
Ubani is the seventh defendant sentenced in connection with this scheme. Three other defendants, Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku and Cynthia Garza Williams, await sentencing in the Southern District of Texas.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent-In-Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; Special Agent-in-Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS’s Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG); and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU).
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Charles D. Reed and Deputy Chief Sam S. Sheldon of the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, Texas OAG-MFCU and the Federal Railroad Retirement Board-Office of Inspector General. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the 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.