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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 4, 2010
New Orleans Doctor and Owner of Medical Equipment Company Each Plead Guilty for Their Roles in Baton Rouge-area Health Care Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – A New Orleans-area medical doctor and the owner and operator of a medical equipment company each pleaded guilty today for their roles in a Baton Rouge-area durable medical equipment (DME) health care fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced

Medical doctor Dahlia V. Kirkpatrick and Emmanuel M. Komandu each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson in the Middle District of Louisiana to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  At sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 6, 2011, Kirkpatrick and Emmanuel each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine equal to the greater of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary loss to the United States resulting from the offense.

According to plea documents, Kirkpatrick began working with Komandu in or around January 2005. Komandu was the owner and operator of Alpha Medical Solutions Inc., a purported DME supplier based in Baker, La. Alpha purportedly specialized in the provision of power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories and feeding nutrients to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries.

According to court documents, from approximately January 2005 through February 2010, Komandu and Kirkpatrick submitted and caused the submission, on behalf of Alpha, of approximately $775,019 in fraudulent claims to the Medicare program. The majority of Alpha' s fraudulent claims were based on prescriptions for medically unnecessary DME that were written and provided by Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick wrote prescriptions for medically unnecessary DME, such as power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories and feeding nutrients. Medicare paid $302,811 to Alpha based on these fraudulent claims.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys O. Benton Curtis III and Sarah M. Hall of the Criminal Division' s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and the Louisiana Attorney General' s Office.  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 Middle District of Louisiana.

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' 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

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