HOUSTON – Two individuals have been convicted of conspiracy to commit and committing health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
The jury deliberated for 45 minutes before convicting Alfred Olotin Alatan, 62, formerly of Houston and now residing in Fulshear, and Francis Ekene, 71, Sugar Land, following a day three-day trial. Alatan was also found guilty of money laundering.
Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Francis was the owner of Milten Medical Clinic, both businesses located in Houston.
At trial, the jury heard that Alatan paid recruiters to bring patient information to be billed for home health services regardless of whether they needed it or not. Beneficiaries testified in trial and admitted they did not need home health services at the time the health care service providers billed them.
Additional testimony revealed Dr. John Ramirez had signed off on plan of care forms at the Milton Clinic when patients were not actually under his care.
Previous employees Susana Bermudez and Rita Kpotie Smith also testified. Bermudez admitted she and Smith operated both clinics and that Alatan was the leader of the scheme. Both Alatan and Ekene would consult Bermudez and Smith who directed them and provided assistance in carrying out the scheme within both offices.
At trial, the defense attempted to convince the jury they were not involved in the daily operations and did not know the provided services were unnecessary and fraudulent.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake presided over trial and set sentencing for July 22. At that time, Alatan and Ekene face up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine on each count of conviction. Alatan could also receive up to 20 years for his conviction of money laundering.
Alatan and Ekene were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
Bermudez, both 55 and of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to their roles as co-conspirators in the scheme. Bermudez is currently serving 30 months in federal prison, while Smith is set for sentencing July 21.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Grace Murphy are prosecuting the case.