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May 6, 2009

BROTHER AND SISTER INDICTED IN ADULT DIAPER FRAUD CASE

(HOUSTON) – Benjamin B. Essien and his sister, Rose B. Essien, of Houston, have been charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy, multiple counts of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft arising from a scheme to defraud Medicaid through the fraudulent filing of claims for adult urinary incontinence supplies, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.

Benjamin Essien, 32, and Rose B. Essien, 28, were arrested today, without incident, by investigators of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, in Sugarland, Texas. Both made their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in Houston this afternoon for arraignment. The court has ordered that each defendant may be released on bond upon posting 10% of a $50,000 bond. 

The 11-count indictment was returned under seal on Thursday, April 30, 2009, and unsealed yesterday. It alleges that between April 2004 and August 2006 Benjamin and Rose Essien, who owned and operated the durable medical equipment (DME) company Logic World Medical, routinely billed Medicaid for adult urinary incontinence supplies they did not deliver to the Medicaid beneficiaries, delivered significantly less supplies than the amounts stated in claims, or provided supplies to Medicaid beneficiaries who did not need the supplies and whose physicians had not prescribed them. Adult incontinence supplies includes adult diapers, underpads, wipes and pull-up briefs. The Essien’s are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and eight counts of health care fraud. During the relevant time period, the indictment alleges the defendants billed Medicaid for claims totaling approximately $1,782,861 and received payments for those claims totaling approximately $1,101,865.

Benjamin and Rose Essien are also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment alleges that Benjamin and Rose Essien unlawfully used and transferred personal identification information of Medicaid beneficiaries and Medicaid participating physicians as part of their scheme to defraud Medicaid.   

The conspiracy to commit health care fraud charge and each of the eight health care fraud charges carry a maximum punishment upon conviction of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated identity theft counts carry a mandatory two-year sentence which must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed for the underlying fraud offenses.

The investigation leading the charges was conducted by the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit in Houston and the FBI. Special Assistant United States Attorney Justo A. Mendez is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, and not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

 

 

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