BOSTON – A Boston man was convicted yesterday following a jury trial for a scheme to defraud the Medicare program out of approximately $1 million.
Blessing Sydney Iwuala, 54, of Hyde Park, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and three counts of health care fraud following an eight-day jury trial.
Iwuala was convicted of conspiring to bill the Medicare program for more than $1 million of durable medical equipment, including power wheelchairs, for Medicare patients who did not order and did not need the equipment. Medicare paid Iwuala approximately $450,000 in connection with the scheme.
Iwuala owned and operated a medical supply store called Above All Homecare and Supply, Inc. (Above All). Iwuala allowed a co-conspirator (Person A), whose Medicare supply privileges had been revoked, to use Above All as a front to submit fraudulent Medicare claims for patients in Texas. After doing virtually no business for the first 15 months of its existence, between February 2009 and May 2009, Above All billed Medicare for more than $1 million of medical equipment for 88 Medicare patients in Texas. Person A obtained these orders by paying another co-conspirator (Person B), for the prescriptions, which were forged. Iwuala allowed Person A to bill Medicare for these claims using Above All’s name, and Iwuala provided Person A with blank Above All paperwork to deliver power wheelchairs and other equipment to Medicare patients, who had not requested the equipment. Shortly after Person A was arrested in connection with a separate health care fraud scheme, Iwuala terminated Above All. Iwuala kept approximately $300,000 of the Medicare proceeds, paying Person A approximately $150,000. Most of the patients who were the subjects of the Above All scheme were “compromised” Medicare beneficiaries whose Medicare information had been used repeatedly in connection with other Medicare fraud schemes. As a result, when some of these patients actually needed medical equipment, they were unable to obtain this equipment due to the Above All fraud scheme, as well as others.
In addition to the conspiracy count, Iwuala was convicted of three health care fraud counts for billing Medicare for unnecessary medical equipment, much of which was never delivered, for three patients in Texas.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Iwuala on October 18, 2013. The statutory maximum penalty for each of the four charges is 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense, restitution to the Medicare program, and forfeiture of any proceeds gained by Iwuala as a result of the offense.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Susan J. Waddell, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David S. Schumacher and Amanda P.M. Strachan of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit. The trial team was also assisted by Medicare contractor Health Integrity, LLC.