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March 30, 2010

HOUSTON PHYSICIAN CHARGED IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SCHEME TO DEFRAUD MEDICARE

(HOUSTON) – The continuing investigation into allegations of health care fraud by persons associated with City Nursing Services of Texas Inc. has yielded a 55-count, second superseding indictment, charging Dr. Christina Clardy, a 61-year-old Houston physician, and one as yet unnamed individual with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and mail fraud, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers announced today. The second superseding indictment adds four additional structuring financial counts against defendant Kenneth Anokam, 54, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who was named in the previous indictment and who has been in federal custody without bond since Oct. 26, 2009.

Although a warrant has issued for the arrest of Clardy, she is expected to surrender herself to federal authorities tomorrow and make an initial appearance in federal court thereafter.

According to allegations in the second superseding indictment, the defendants, through City Nursing Services of Texas Inc., located in Houston, billed Medicare and Medicaid for approximately $45 million worth of services between January 2007 and June 2009. The majority of the charges were for physical therapy services despite the fact that the clinic allegedly did not employ any licensed physical therapists or physical therapy assistants and neither Clardy nor Dr. Thaddeus Hume, who was named in the previous indictment, provided or supervised any physical therapy. The indictment further alleges that recruiters and marketers were paid for bringing patients to the clinic and patients were paid for going to the clinic and signing documents for physical therapy services that were not rendered. City Nursing was paid approximately $30 million by Medicare and Medicaid for the claims submitted.

Charged in a prior indictment and named in this superseding indictment are the owner of the clinic, resident alien Umawa Oke Imo, 54, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has been in federal custody without bond since June 26, 2009, and Hume, who has been on bond subject to conditions since Oct. 27, 2010. Trial of the co-defendants is presently scheduled for July 26, 2010, before United States District Court Judge Melinda Harmon. Joann White, 45, a former employee of the clinic, entered a plea of guilty on Feb. 12, 2010, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as alleged in the previously filed indictment and is awaiting sentencing.

The possible punishment upon conviction for health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering is up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mail fraud carries a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction. Structuring, as charged in the indictment, carries a possible punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The investigation into Imo, Anokam, White, Hume, Clardy and City Nursing is the result of a joint investigation being conducted by agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service - Office of Inspector General and the Texas Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Special Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.

 

 

 

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