TYLER, Texas – Two men have been sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay restitution for their roles in a health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.
Jasper Ogbonna, 42, of Newark, Delaware, pleaded guilty on Sep. 27, 2010 to health care fraud and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $822,411.44. Tony Ahi, 54, of Toronto, Canada, pleaded guilty on Dec. 6, 2010, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $969,516.25. The sentencing hearings were held today before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider.
On June 30, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a twenty-one count indictment charging Ogbonna, the owner of a West Virginia medical supply company, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
On January 6, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a forty-one count superseding indictment charging Ogbonna, Anthony Nnadi, Kevin Onwudiwe, Ahi, and Emmanuel Gabriels with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Ogbonna, Nnadi, and Onwudiwe were also charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. The grand jury returned a second superseding indictment on March 3, 2010.
According to the indictment, from August 2005 through April 2008, Ogbonna controlled and operated Matrix Medical Equipment and Supplies, Inc. in Weirton, West Virginia, and Nnadi controlled and operated Nicco Medical Services, LLC in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nnadi was assisted in the operation of Nicco Medical Services by Onwudiwe and Ahi. Both companies purportedly did business providing durable medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. During that time, Ogbonna, Nnadi, Onwudiwe, Ahi, Gabriels, and their co-conspirators devised and carried out a scheme to defraud Medicare through the marketing of “ortho kits,” which consisted of a bag of orthotic items such as braces, wraps, and supports. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators illegally obtained protected Medicare beneficiary health information, including names, dates of birth, and Medicare and Social Security numbers from elderly individuals. Approximately 509 Medicare beneficiaries in Texas and Louisiana were supplied with “ortho kits” which were not prescribed or authorized by a physician and which were not wanted by the beneficiaries. In many instances, physicians’ signatures were forged and false claims were submitted to Medicare in the names of Medicare beneficiaries who were deceased. Using protected health information, the defendants and their co-conspirators billed between $4,850 and $6,550 for each “ortho kit”, causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare of more than $2.8 million. As a result of these claims, the defendants and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained more than $1,095,000 from Medicare.
“Today’s sentencing marks the end of only a single battle in the ongoing war against those who purposely attack the financial integrity of the Medicare program,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Dallas Regional Office. "HHS-OIG, along with our state and federal law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting the Medicare program and its beneficiaries.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU). The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Kummerfeld.