Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2011

MASSACHUSETTS MAN SENTENCED IN MULTI-STATE HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME

BEAUMONT, Texas – A 50-year-old Suffolk, MA, man has been sentenced to federal prison for a health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

John Nasky Okonkwo pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2010, to two counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison on Aug. 11, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.  Okonkwo was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of over $5 million to Medicare and Texas Medicaid and forfeiture of $4,809,460.77.

                According to information presented in court, from 2004 to 2008, Okonkwo formed companies that fraudulently charged Texas Medicaid and Medicare for power wheelchairs and orthotic "kits" consisting of braces, pneumatic leg pumps and ultraviolet heat lamps.  Patients of these companies did not need the equipment that Okonkwo provided and the equipment had not been prescribed by a qualified health care provider, as required by Medicare and Texas Medicaid regulations.  Under this scheme, Okonkwo attempted to receive payment from Medicare and Texas Medicaid for over $12.7 million.  Okonkwo was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 19, 2009 and charged with health care fraud violations.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU), and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Foster and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tortorice.

 

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