U.S. Department of Justice
Commerce St., 3rd Fl.
Telephone (214) 659-8600
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
MAY 10, 2006
PHYSICIAN AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT SUPPLY BUSINESS
Three defendants who were found guilty of participating in a health care fraud scheme that defrauded Medicare of approximately $12 million have been sentenced, announced United States Attorney Richard B. Roper.
Today, the Honorable Jorge A. Solis, United States District Judge, sentenced Dr. Patrick Antoon, of Magnolia, Arkansas, to 54 months imprisonment without parole. Last week, Judge Solis sentenced co-defendants Ignatius Chuka “Chuck” Ogba, the owner of Universal Health Services, Inc., a durable medical equipment (DME) supply business owner, to 151 months imprisonment without parole and sentenced his younger brother, Ifeanyi “Iffy” Boniface Ogba, to 66 months imprisonment without parole. Dr. Antoon was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $432,458.54.
U. S. Attorney Richard Roper said, “Defrauding Medicare is a most pernicious crime. The message is simple - weather you are a doctor or business owner, if you cheat Medicare you will land in federal prison for a long time.”
"The sentences and fines handed down in this case should send a clear message that Federal law enforcement authorities are actively working together to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to defraud the Medicare program and its most vulnerable beneficiaries," said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Following a four-week trial last fall, a federal jury found the defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, paying and receiving illegal kickbacks, and money laundering. Both Ogba’s and Dr. Antoon were also found guilty of paying and receiving illegal remuneration (i.e., kickbacks) and health care fraud. The Ogba’s were also convicted ofengaging in illegal monetary transactions. Dr. Antoon was further convicted of obstructing a criminal health care investigation, altering and falsifying health care records, and obstructing a federal grand jury investigation.
Dr. Antoon was ordered to voluntarily surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on or before July 12, 2006.
Chuck Ogba owned and operated his DME, Universal Health Services, Inc. Chuck Ogba hired recruiters to find and locate Medicare beneficiaries for scooters or power wheelchairs. Medicare covered the expense of the above medial equipment for the elderly and the disabled. Chuck Ogba, Iffy Ogba, and employees on behalf of Universal, paid $200 cash to medical doctors like Dr. Antoon to sign and certify that the medical equipment provided by Chuck Ogba was medically necessary. Once Chuck and Iffy Ogba received the certificates signed by the doctors, called certificates of medical necessity (CMN), Universal would always bill Medicare for the reimbursement of a K0011 power wheelchair and list of accessories. Chuck and Iffy Ogba, through Universal, would provide to the Medicare patient a K0011 power wheelchair, or another less expensive piece of equipment such as a scooter, and in some cases, nothing at all. Under this illegal arrangement, Universal billed Medicare in excess $12,000,000.00.
Dr. Antoon was one of several doctors in Arkansas who accepted illegal kickback payments from Universal in exchange for signed CMNs. Dr. Antoon received $200 for each patient that Medicare reimbursed to Universal for the cost of a K0011 power wheelchair and accessories. By virtue of his acceptance of illegal kickbacks, Dr. Antoon allowed Chuck Ogba, Iffy Ogba, and Universal to cause significant harm to Medicare, which is funded in part by taxpayer payroll contributions.
In addition, Dr. Antoon was convicted for lying to a criminal investigator with the Office of the Inspector General, Health and Human Services, on July 27, 2004, about the alteration and falsification of health care records in an attempt to obstruct the health care investigation, as well as endeavoring to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation.