WASHINGTON – The owner and operator of a Houston durable medical equipment (DME) company was sentenced yesterday in Houston federal court to 33 months in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Bassey Monday Idiong, 32, of Humble, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore. In addition to his prison term, Idiong was sentenced to two years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $527,023 in restitution.
Idiong pleaded guilty on March 1, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud. Idiong owned and operated B.I. Medical Supply LLC.
According to court documents, Idiong paid patient recruiters kickbacks in exchange for the names of beneficiaries for whom bills could be submitted to Medicare. B.I. Medical billed Medicare for expensive, rigid orthotics and braces that were packaged together and referred to as an “arthritis kit,” at a cost of approximately $4,000 per kit. B.I. Medical then supplied the beneficiaries with different, less expensive products that were not medically necessary. Court documents indicate that in one instance, B.I. Medical billed Medicare for an arthritis kit that included two knee braces for a beneficiary who had only one leg. In total, B.I. Medical submitted approximately $846,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
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), Office of Investigations; Joseph J. Del Favero, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General; and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Laura Cordova, Katherine Houston and Jennifer Saulino of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 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 .