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Press Release

Maryland Man Sentenced to 9 Months in Prison for Attempted Witness Tampering in Relation to Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Remained a Fugitive for Almost Nine Years Following 2014 Indictment

            WASHINGTON – Atawan Mundu John, a.k.a., John Mundu Atawan, 46, of Hyattsville, Maryland, was sentenced today to nine months in prison for attempting to tamper with a witness more than nine years ago during a federal healthcare fraud investigation.

            The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs, of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal and Cyber Division, Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General for the region that includes Washington, D.C., and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.

            In February 2014, a federal grand jury charged Florence Bikundi, who owned and operated a home health care agency, with various offenses related to a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud the D.C. Medicaid program. The defendant was employed by Bikundi’s agency as a personal care aide. After Bikundi was arrested, the investigation into her and others continued. As part of its investigation, law enforcement agents interviewed the defendant multiple times.

            On June 12, 2014, a Medicaid beneficiary who received kickbacks from the defendant to help facilitate Medicaid fraud placed a recorded call to the defendant that lasted approximately 18 minutes. During that call, the defendant – fully aware of the active federal investigation – instructed the beneficiary to lie to the FBI about ever receiving money or kickbacks. The defendant admitted on the call that paying money to beneficiaries was fraud.  Law enforcement agents confronted the defendant with the recorded call five days later. Before formal charges were brought against him, the defendant fled the area.

            In December 2014, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Florence Bikundi, her husband Michael Bikundi, Christian Asongcha, five other individuals, and the defendant with various offenses related to the scheme to defraud Medicaid. The defendant was charged with one count of attempted witness tampering. Five of the individuals pleaded guilty to health care fraud, and in November 2015, a jury convicted Florence and Michael Bikundi of multiple offenses after a trial. By June 2016, the Bikundis and five other individuals all had been sentenced while Asongcha, who has never been apprehended, and the defendant remained fugitives. Florence Bikundi was sentenced to ten years in prison; her husband Michael Bikundi received a seven-year sentence. The co-defendants received sentences ranging from probation with home confinement to three months in prison.

            The defendant remained a fugitive until July 13, 2023, when he was arrested in Maryland. He has been held without bond since his arrest.

            On August 4, 2023, the defendant pleaded guilty to attempted tampering with a witness before U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell.

            Today, Judge Howell sentenced him to nine months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. She also ordered that he pay $80,493 in restitution to the D.C. Medicaid program, an amount equal to what Medicaid paid home health agencies for false claims associated with three Medicaid beneficiaries to whom the defendant paid kickbacks.

            The government urges the public to provide tips and assistance to stop health care fraud. If you have information about individuals committing health care fraud, including the whereabouts of Christian Asongcha, please call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General hotline at 800-HHS‑TIPS (800 447-8477) or the D.C. Office of the Inspector General at 202-724-TIPS (202 724-8477).

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, and the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Multiple people from the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked on the case, including former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lionel A. André, Anthony Saler, and Michelle Bradford, who tried Florence and Michael Bikundi. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kondi Kleinman prosecuted Atawan Mundu John from the time of his arrest through today’s sentencing.

Updated November 16, 2023

Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-704