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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2015

Owner of Medical Equipment Supply Company Convicted for $3.5 Million Medicare and Medi-Cal Fraud Scheme

A jury in federal court in Los Angeles convicted the former owner of a durable medical equipment supply company of health care fraud charges in connection with a $3.5 million Medicare and Medi-Cal fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region, Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Fendrick of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse made the announcement.

Sylvia Walter-Eze, 48, of Stevenson Ranch, California, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 15, 2015, before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Walter-Eze, the then-owner of Ezcor Medical Supply, paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals.  The evidence further showed that Walter-Eze paid kickbacks to physicians for fraudulent prescriptions, primarily for medically unnecessary—but expensive—power wheelchairs, that she then used to support her fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medi-Cal.

Between 2007 and 2012, Walter-Eze submitted $3,521,786 in claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal, and received $1,939,529 in reimbursement for those claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG’s Los Angeles Regional Office and the California Department of Justice, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Alexander F. Porter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

15-352
Topic: 
Healthcare Fraud
Updated March 20, 2015