Maryland Doctor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding MedicareAnd Other Health Care Programs and Evading More than $400,000 in Taxes
U.S. Attorney Says “Additional Health Care Fraud Prosecutions are Expected”
Greenbelt, Maryland - Ndubuisi Joseph Okafor, M.D., age 48, of Mitchellville, Maryland pled guilty today to tax evasion and health care fraud, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“Too many health care dollars are stolen by medical providers who bill for services that they did not provide. Health care fraud remains a high priority for the District of Maryland. As a result, additional health care fraud prosecutions are expected in the near future,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
Acting Special Agent in Charge Don Fort, IRS Criminal Investigation stated, "Tax evasion is not a victimless crime. Honest, hardworking Americans pay the price when others choose to evade their tax obligations."
According to the plea agreement, Dr. Okafor operated a medical practice named “The Okafor Group,” which provided primary care medicine in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. From 1997 through 2005, Dr. Okafor evaded his taxes by reporting false information to the Internal Revenue Service and tax preparers regarding his personal income and the gross receipts from his medical practice; establishing sham corporations in the Bahamas to create false expenses and disguise personal income; and diverting money from his medical practice by writing checks from the corporate bank account for personal expenses. He also caused his medical practice to file false income tax returns.
The facts underlying the plea agreement state that in January, 1997, Dr. Okafor hired Universal Corporate Services ("UCS") to incorporate an off-shore corporation named "Eziafa International Investment Co." ("Eziafa") in the Bahamas. UCS was a company that promoted asset protection through the formation of off-shore companies. According to its literature, UCS protected assets of taxpayers by "getting as many assets out of your personal name as possible" through transfers of "money, investments and assets into a corporation...you control." In or about October 2000, Dr. Okafor hired UCS to incorporate an off-shore corporation named "Omni Ventures Corporation" ("Omni") in the Bahamas. Both Eziafa and Omni were "sham" corporations in that these entities neither provided services nor sold products but were simply used as vehicles through which Dr. Okafor evaded lawful reporting and payment of income taxes to the United States. Specifically, Dr. Okafor diverted personal income to Eziafa and Omni in order to engage in securities trading on his own behalf.
Dr. Okafor also plead guilty to defrauding Medicare and other health benefit programs. For example, according to the plea agreement, Dr. Okafor caused Medicare to reimburse him for false claims by billing for hospital services that Dr. Okafor purported to perform on his patients but that he did not perform. On one occasion on November 10, 2002, Dr. Okafor was traveling in South Carolina but submitted claims for seeing patients admitted to the Providence Hospital in Washington D.C. on that date. For this conduct, Dr. Okafor caused losses to the Medicare and other health care benefit programs of between $40,000 and $70,000.
Okafor faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for tax evasion and ten years for health care fraud, followed by three years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. scheduled his sentencing for April 14, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Robert K. Hur, who are prosecuting the case.