Federal Jury Convicts Tinley Park Physician in Medicare Fraud Scheme
CHICAGO — A physician at Chicago-based Mobile Doctors was convicted on federal fraud charges today for falsely certifying patients as confined to their homes as part of a scheme to defraud Medicare.
After a four-day trial in federal court in Chicago, the jury convicted DR. BANIO KOROMA on two counts of healthcare fraud and two counts of making false statements related to health care matters. Dr. Koroma, 66, of Tinley Park, worked for Mobile Doctors, which contracted with physicians to arrange in-home visits for patients in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and other states. Mobile Doctors, which closed in 2013, was located at 3319 N. Elston Ave., in Chicago.
Evidence at trial revealed that Dr. Koroma certified patients as confined to their homes when they were not actually home-bound and did not require the skilled-nursing services that he had ordered. One of the patients testified at trial that she was able to leave her home and could visit her primary-care physician for office visits, even though Dr. Koroma was certifying her as confined to the home. Dr. Koroma’s false certifications cost Medicare more than $45,000 for this patient alone, according to evidence at trial.
The healthcare fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, while the false statement counts are each punishable by up to five years. U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 2, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.
The investigation was carried out by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which consists of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Fraud Section. The strike force is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to prevent fraud and to enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.
The investigation previously resulted in the conviction of DIKE AJIRI, who served as Mobile Doctor’s chief executive officer. Ajiri, of Wilmette, pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of healthcare fraud. He admitted fraudulently increasing Medicare bills for in-home treatment that was shorter and less complicated than the claims indicated. The improper billing – known as “upcoding” – defrauded Medicare and the Railroad Retirement Board of approximately $1,854,000, according to Ajiri’s plea agreement. Ajiri faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison when Judge Tharp sentences him on April 19, 2016, at 2:00 p.m.
The jury verdict against Dr. Koroma was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General is also participating in the case.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Chahn Lee and Eric Pruitt. To report health care fraud or to learn more about HEAT, logon to: StopMedicareFraud.gov.