D O J Seal
U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney James T. Jacks
Northern District of Texas






THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2010



PHONE: (214)659-8600




DALLAS - Obele Ife Chidi, of Nigeria, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor to 30 months in federal prison following her guilty plea in February 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Chidi was also ordered to pay $744,576 restitution to the Medicare program.

According to documents filed in court, Chidi and her husband, Iheanyi David Nzekwe, owned a durable medical equipment supply business, Specialty Medical Supply & Health Management, Inc., formerly in Richardson, Texas. In 2003, Chidi and Nzekwe unlawfully used the identifying information of two physicians to submit more than $991,000 in false claims to Medicare, seeking reimbursement for power wheelchairs. The claims falsely reflected that these physicians had examined the patients and issued prescriptions for the wheelchairs when in fact, the patients and the physicians had never even met.

In total, more than 200 fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicare through Chidi’s scheme, resulting in Medicare payments of $744,576. Additionally, Chidi assumed multiple aliases and wrote checks for $11,000 and $63,000, among others, payable to her husband and herself under one alias and signed by her under another alias. These checks were issued from the Specialty Medical bank account into which fraudulently-obtained Medicare payments had been deposited.

Chidi and Nzekwe left the U.S. while under investigation in late 2003. Federal agents apprehended Chidi at a Houston airport in December 2009 as she attempted to re-enter the country. The case remains pending against Nzekwe.

“Any time false claims are submitted for payment, the nation’s health insurance programs suffer,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the HHS Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) Dallas Regional Office. ”Our HHS OIG investigators will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify providers who deliberately manipulate the system to obtain crucial Medicare or Medicaid dollars.”

U.S. Attorney Jacks praised the excellent investigative work of HHS OIG, the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Miller and Sean R. McKenna prosecuted.