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FORMER MEDICAL EQUIPMENT SUPPLIER PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD

October 7, 2011

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today the guilty plea of Archibong Edem-Effoing, age 58, of Houston, Texas. Edem-Effoing pled guilty to one count of health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347.

At the plea hearing held before United States District Judge Brian S. Miller, Edem-Effoing admitted that no later than December 22, 2007 and continuing through March 1, 2009, he engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare by stealing the identity of a young Nigerian which he then used to apply for a Medicare Durable Medical Equipment (DME) supplier number. After receiving the DME number, he billed Medicare for arthritis kits and power wheelchairs that, in some cases, were not ordered by a physician, and which in other cases were never delivered.

The DME company was called Joshua Medical Link Corporation and was located at 1100 N. University Avenue, Suite130 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Medicare enrollment packet contained the stolen identifiers including the name, date of birth and Social Security Number of a person the defendant knew through church who had relocated to the United States from Nigeria at the age of 17. Correspondence in the enrollment application contained an email address which was confirmed to be registered to the defendant at the defendant's residence in Houston.

The total amount billed to Medicare was $1,941,962.21, and the total amount paid to the defendant through the DME company was $983,273.18.

"Those who defraud our healthcare assistance programs hurt not only the programs, but also those who are supposed to benefit from the programs," stated Thyer. He added, "Such fraud cannot be tolerated, especially in light of the current economic environment. These programs need to be available for legitimate recipients."

The statutory penalty for health care fraud is not more than ten (10) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Edem-Effoing remains free on his own recognizance pending sentencing, which will be set by the Court at a later date.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services - Office of the Inspector General. It was indicted by former Assistant United States Attorney Laura Hoey and is currently being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen Whatley.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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