|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: DAVILYN WALSTON|
|FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2010||PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER|
|HTTP://WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe||OFFICE: (409) 839-2538 DIRECT: (409) 981-7902|
FIVE INDICTED IN EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME
PLANO, Texas - U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that five individuals have been indicted in connection with a health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas.
Jasper Ogbonna, 40, of Newark, Delaware; Anthony Nnadi, 36, Kevin Onwudiwe, 36, and Emmanuel Gabriels aka “Taliban” aka “T-Banny”, 45, all of Houston; and Tony Ahi aka Tony Uhegbu aka Obinna Ahi aka “Mayor”, 52, of Toronto, Canada, were charged in connection with a multi-state health care fraud scheme.
On June 30, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a 21 count indictment charging Ogbonna, the owner of a West Virginia medical supply company, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Ogbonna was arrested on July 8, 2009 in Newark, Delaware.
On Jan. 6, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a 41 count superseding indictment charging Ogbonna, Nnadi, Onwudiwe, Ahi, and Gabriels with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Ogbonna, Nnadi, and Onwudiwe were also charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Nnadi was arrested on Jan. 19, 2010 at Bush International Airport in Houston attempting to enter the country. Gabriels was arrested in Houston on Jan. 15, 2010. Onwudiwe was in federal custody at the time of indictment. Ahi is a fugitive, believed to be in the Toronto, Canada area.
According to the indictment, from August 2005 to April 2008, Ogbonna controlled and operated Matrix Medical Equipment and Supplies, Inc. in Weirton, West Virginia, and Nnadi controlled and operated Nicco Medical Services, LLC in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nnadi was assisted in the operation of Nicco Medical Services by Onwudiwe and Ahi. Both companies purportedly did business providing durable medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. During that time, Ogbonna, Nnadi, Onwudiwe, Ahi, Gabriels, and their co-conspirators are alleged to have devised a scheme to defraud Medicare through the marketing of “ortho kits,” which consisted of a bag of orthotic items such as braces, wraps, and supports. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators illegally obtained protected Medicare beneficiary health information, including names, dates of birth, and Medicare and Social Security numbers from elderly individuals. Approximately 509 Medicare beneficiaries in Texas and Louisiana were supplied with “ortho kits” which were not prescribed or authorized by a physician and which were not wanted by the beneficiaries. In many instances, physicians’ signatures were forged and false claims were submitted to Medicare in the names of Medicare beneficiaries who were deceased. Using protected health information, the defendants and their co-conspirators billed between $4,850 and $6,550 for each “ortho kit”, causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare of more than $2.8 million. As a result of these claims, the defendants and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained more than $1,095,000 from Medicare.
If convicted, the defendants all face up to 10 years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge. Ogbonna, Nnadi, and Onwudiwe each face up to 10 years in federal prison for each count of health care fraud and up to 2 years in federal prison for each count of aggravated identity theft. An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of either guilt or innocence. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by agents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU). Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld is prosecuting this case.
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