Five Defendants Arrested For Medicare Fraud Scheme
SAN FRANCISCO - Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services have arrested five defendants, including a medical doctor, for their participation in a fraud scheme involving more than $2.4 million in fraudulent Medicare billings, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag; Stephanie Douglas, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco; and Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region’s Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. The defendants were arrested on Feb. 9, 2012, and made their initial appearances in federal court that same day.
Dr. Edna Calaustro, 68, of San Francisco, was arrested in Los Banos, Calif., and made her initial appearance in San Francisco. Eduardo Abad, 65, and Mele Saavedra, 47, both of San Francisco, were arrested in San Francisco. Dr. Calaustro was released on bond and ordered to appear on Feb. 10, 2012, before United States Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James for a further hearing on the conditions of her bond. Abad and Saavedra remain in custody; they will appear again on Feb. 10, 2012, also before Magistrate Judge James, for appointment of counsel and possible detention hearing.
Patrick Adebowale Sogbein, 50, and his wife, Adebola Adefunke Adebimpe, 44, of Santa Clarita, Calif., were arrested in Santa Clarita and made their initial appearances in Los Angeles. Sogbein and Adebimpe are currently in custody and further hearings have been set for Feb. 10, 2012, before United States Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle in federal court in Los Angeles.
The defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Jan. 26 and charged with one count of Conspiracy to Engage in Health Care Fraud and ten counts of Health Care Fraud. The indictment alleges that from approximately Dec. 9, 2006, through July 26, 2011, defendants Sogbein and Adebimpe, on behalf of their respective companies, Debs Medical Distributors Inc., and Dignity Medical Supply LLC, submitted more than $2.4 million in fraudulent claims for power wheelchairs to Medicare based on fraudulent prescriptions provided by Dr. Calaustro, and that Sogbein and Adebimpe were paid more than $1.2 million by Medicare. The indictment further alleges that defendants Abad and Saavedra served as “recruiters,” identifying patients to receive the power wheelchairs and passing their names along to Dr. Calaustro. The indictment also alleges that Sogbein paid cash kickbacks to Calaustro and that Calaustro paid kickbacks to Abad and Saavedra for their assistance in the fraud.
The maximum statutory penalties for each count of Conspiracy to Engage in Health Care Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and Health Care Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347, are 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, or twice the amount gained in the course of the fraud, whichever is greater, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The U.S. Attorney, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services urge citizens to report instances of health care fraud by calling the Federal Bureau of Investigation tip line at 415-553-7400 or by contacting the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
U.S. Attorney Haag would like to recognize and thank her counterpart in Los Angeles, United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., of the Central District of California, for his assistance during the investigation of this conduct and following the arrests of two of the defendants.
Denise Marie Barton is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Assistant United States Attorney David Countryman, Financial Analyst Ron Fiorillo, Paralegal Beth Margen, and Legal Assistant M. Elizabeth Garcia. The prosecution is the result of ten-month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco and Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services in Los Angeles.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all persons charged with a crime, defendants Sogbein, Adebimpe, Calaustro, Abad, and Saavedra must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.