The former co-owner of a Houston-area home health care company was sentenced in Houston to 108 months in prison for his participation in a $5.2 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Princewill Njoku, a former co-owner and administrator at Family Healthcare Group, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas in the Southern District of Texas to 108 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Njoku was ordered to pay $5.1 million in restitution jointly and severally with his co-defendants. In January 2011, Njoku pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters and sixteen counts of paying such illegal kickbacks.
According to court documents and other evidence presented to the court, Family Healthcare Group, a Houston home health care company, purported to provide skilled nursing to Medicare beneficiaries. According to the evidence, Princewill Njoku paid co-conspirators to recruit Medicare beneficiaries for the purpose of Family Healthcare Group filing claims with Medicare for skilled nursing that was medically unnecessary or not provided. Njoku and his co-conspirators then falsified documents to support the fraudulent payments from Medicare.
Njoku is the ninth defendant sentenced in connection with this scheme, including Njoku’s co-owner, Clifford Ubani, who also received a 108 month sentence earlier this month. One remaining defendant awaits sentencing.
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 (MFCU).
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Charles D. Reed and Deputy Chief Sam S. Sheldon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, Texas OAG-MFCU and the Federal Railroad Retirement Board-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 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 $4.4 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