BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – U.S. District Court Judge R. David Proctor on Tuesday sentenced a Birmingham doctor to 30 years in prison for his involvement with Care Complete Medical Clinic, located in Birmingham, AL and today sentenced two of Ifediba’s co-conspirators, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr., and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris.
PATRICK EMEKA IFEDIBA, 61, of Shelby County, was convicted in July 2019 on thirty-five counts involving unlawful drug distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering. In addition to Ifediba’s prison sentence, Judge Proctor ordered forfeiture of his interest in real estate and the contents of several annuities and financial accounts, collectively worth approximately $2.5 million. The Court also entered forfeiture money judgments against Ifediba in the amounts of $2,481,665.73 (representing the proceeds of health care-fraud offenses) and $1,132,817.50 (representing the proceeds of controlled-substances offenses). Forfeiture proceedings concerning the financial-account contents and real estate are ongoing in order to account for the rights of any third-party claimants to the properties forfeited.
NGOZI JUSTINA OZULIGBO, 50, of Trussville, was convicted in July 2019 on twelve counts of health care fraud and money laundering. The jury determined that she had, among other things, conspired with Ifediba to both fraudulently bill Medicare and various health-insurance companies for allergy related tests and treatments and launder the proceeds of his unlawful activities. Ozuligbo was sentenced to 36 months in prison, and ordered to pay $392,845.94 in restitution.
CLEMENT ESSIEN EBIO, 63, of Hoover, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to conspiring with Ifediba and Ozuligbo to commit health care fraud. Ebio was sentenced to 30 months in prison, ordered to pay $392,845.94 in restitution, and a forfeiture money judgment was entered against him in the same amount.
“Physicians who choose to deal drugs while hiding behind their white coats are no different than drug dealers who hide in alleys,” Escalona said. “The greed of Dr. Ifediba contributed to the ongoing opioid crisis that is plaguing our communities. And to add insult to injury, Dr. Ifediba used our financial system to disguise the proceeds of his crimes and launder them into financial accounts and real property. Each day, more law-enforcement resources are being deployed to address health care fraud. These resources will result in more doctors, nurses, and business people in the health care sector being held accountable for their actions.”
“Ifediba intentionally fueled the local opioid epidemic by over prescribing addictive medications to patients for his own personal gain,” Sharp said. “The message should be clear, any doctor or healthcare professional who prioritizes profit or does harm to their patients under the guise of providing health care will be subject to the full investigative resources of the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”
“As proven at trial, Ifediba cared more about greed, lining his bank account with millions of dollars, and spreading opioid addiction than he cared about his Hippocratic oath,” Morris said. “Time and time again, Ifediba handed out prescriptions for highly addictive opioids without regard to life or the well-being of those struggling with addiction. The Ifedibas cared not about their patients or communities but only about their personal wealth. Today’s sentence is a stark reminder that even drug dealers who wear white coats are not above justice.”
According to evidence at trial, Ifediba was a doctor of internal medicine who owned and operated Care Complete Medical Clinic (“CCMC”). Ifediba and others, including his wife, operated CCMC as a pill mill, and illegally, repeatedly prescribed opioids there, often in combination with other controlled substances to form potent and deadly drug cocktails. In addition to operating the pill mill, Ifediba, in a conspiracy with Ebio and Ozuligbo, cheated and stole millions of dollars from Medicare and private health insurers in connection with an allergy fraud scheme that billed insurers for medically unnecessary allergy tests and allergen immunotherapy. Ifediba, with assistance from Ozuligbo and others, laundered the money he made from these crimes through over 50 bank accounts and shell corporations to hide the money and to purchase real estate and fund investment accounts that he controlled.
The FBI and DEA investigated the case as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation. The DEA was assisted by the Fairfield Police Department, the State of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Prattville Police Department, and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mohammad Khatib and Austin Shutt, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Weil prosecuted the case.