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February 3, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Mike Fields, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Regional Office for the HHS Office of Inspector General announced today the sentencing of Archibong Edem-Effiong, age 58, of Houston, Texas. United States District Judge Brian S. Miller sentenced Edem-Effiong to 27 months imprisonment, two years supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $983,273.18. The sentencing follows Edem-Effiong’s October 7, 2011 guilty plea to one count of health care fraud.

At the plea hearing, Edem-Effiong 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 use 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. Because the Medicare DME number was obtained fraudulently, all billings he made to Medicare were considered to be fraudulent.

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.

“The prosecution of this type of crime will continue to be a high priority for this U.S. Attorney’s Office. Everyone, the patient who needs equipment and the taxpayer who pays for the equipment through their tax dollars, is defrauded when someone carries out this type of deceptive scheme,” stated Thyer. “We are committed to preserving the integrity of the Medicare program for those who legitimately depend on it for their health care needs.”

“The sentence pronounced by the Court today dispels the myth that defrauding Medicare is a quick way to make easy money. This term of imprisonment should serve as a deterrent to others who want to defraud the system,” said Fields.

Edem-Effiong is to report to federal prison on March 29, 2012.

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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