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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 6, 2011
New Orleans Doctor and Owner of Medical Equipment Company Sentenced to Prison for Their Roles in Baton Rouge-area Medicare Fraud Scheme

            WASHINGTON – A New Orleans-area medical doctor and the owner and operator of a medical equipment company were sentenced today to 48 and 30 months in prison, respectively, 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, the owner and operator of the medical equipment company, each pleaded guilty on Oct. 4, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson in the Middle District of Louisiana, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

In addition to their prison terms, Judge Jackson sentenced Kirkpatrick and Komandu each to three years of supervised release. Kirkpatrick and Komandu also were ordered to pay $302,811 in restitution jointly and severally with each other. The restitution is to be paid to the victim in this case, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to plea documents, Kirkpatrick began working with Komandu in approximately 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 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.

Today’s sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux for the Middle District of Louisiana, FBI Special Agent in Charge David W. Welker and HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields.

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 nationwide have obtained indictments of more than 850 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.1 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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