Stafford DME Owner Heads to Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud and Identity Theft
|June 6, 2013|
HOUSTON – Abdul Waheed Alex Shittu, 55, a naturalized United States citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been sentenced to 81 months in federal prison following his convictions of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Today, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Shittu a sentence of 57 months for conspiring to commit health care fraud and 24 months for aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively for a total sentence of 81 months in federal prison. He was further ordered to pay $597,865.19 in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid.
Shittu, the owner of S & S Medical Supply Etc. located in Stafford, admitted during his re-arraignment on Nov. 14, 2012, that he billed Medicare and Medicaid for DME listed on purchased physician orders, even though he did not deliver all the DME and he delivered durable medical equipment (DME) to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries he knew did not want or need the supplies. Shittu also admitted he gave his billing agent the incorrect coding information so he would receive more money from Medicare and Medicaid for each DME claim. Between Dec. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009, Shittu submitted approximately $1,154,025 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid and received $597,865.19 for those claims. The defendant also admitted that he began purchasing physician orders for durable medical equipment (DME), including wrist, back, foot, ankle, knee, elbow and shoulder braces as well as wheelchairs around Dec. 1, 2008, and that he purchased the orders from at least five recruiters for $200 - $300 per order. The physicians whose names were on the orders had not seen or treated by the patients.
After long oral argument from both sides today, Judge Ellison cited the seriousness of the crime as one of the reasons for arriving at the sentence. The United States introduced numerous photographs of DME delivered by Shittu to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries that was not medically necessary and which had sat unused for years after Shittu was paid for delivering it. The United States also referenced a chart of Medicare claims data demonstrating how his billing to Medicare dramatically increased when he began purchasing physician orders for $200 - $300 per prescription from recruiters in December 2008. The defense argued that Shittu should receive a lesser sentence because of the actual cost of purchasing the medically un-necessary DME and because he committed the crime due to a tough economic climate. Judge Ellison considered the defendant’s character references and lack of prior criminal history prior to issuing the sentence and concluded that the sentence reflected the seriousness of the crime.
Shittu was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation into Shittu was the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents from the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Office-Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger prosecuted the case.