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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 14, 2022

Health care clinic and home health owners sentenced for fraud

HOUSTON – Two individuals have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to commit and committing health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

A federal jury convicted Francis Ekene, 71, Sugar Land, on all counts following a three-day trial.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake imposed a 120-month-term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the prison term, Judge Lake noted that despite his health issues, it was important for him to serve his punishment.  

Also convicted at trial was Alfred Olotin Alatan, 63, formerly of Houston and now residing in Fulshear. He was previously sentenced to 120 months in prison.

Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene 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 a doctor 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.

Alatan and Ekene were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Bermudez and Smith, 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 serving is serving a 60-month sentence.

The 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 prosecuted the case along with paralegal Judith Cardona. 

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated October 16, 2022